“What kind of mentor do I need?”
Running your own business requires clarity of vision and strength of character in addition to an extensive toolkit of knowledge, experience and skill.
Yet the reality is that none of us has a full toolkit.
We all have weaknesses (or ‘areas for improvement’ if you prefer!) and one of the best ways to plug the gaps is a mentoring relationship with someone who has real-life experience in the areas you lack, and subsequent wisdom to share.
In my experience, most successful people have people to whom they turn for advice, support and guidance and sometimes for direction and help with decision making.
Being a business owner can be challenging. We start with an idea which is usually based on our passion, knowledge or expertise and then we are faced with the reality of needing to be multidimensional in order to make it happen.
This is where a Mentor adds value.
Their role is to provide another dimension and they do this through sharing insights and lessons from their own experiences and because they’ve been there and done it and made mistakes along the way, their input into your business can prevent you from making the same ones!
In this highly competitive environment, the right mentoring relationship can give you a competitive edge, but what is the ‘right mentoring relationship’ for you?
The Role Model – You model their behaviour
The Role Model has already achieved the level of success you aspire to achieve and ideally in a similar type of business and/or industry.
They’ve walked a similar path to the one you are walking and so they have learnt and developed the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to succeed. Much of what they have learnt has come directly as a result of the mistakes they’ve made, the obstacles they’ve encountered and how they have overcome them to achieve the results they have, and it’s those experiences that enable them to provide specific advice and guidance.
The Oracle – You seek their counsel
The Oracle has extensive business experience and ideally across many different types of business and industries.
They may not have specific knowledge or experience of your industry or type of business and that doesn’t matter. What they do have is a ‘bigger picture’ perspective on business generally and they help you to get out of the detail and see your business globally, so that you can make more strategic decisions.
They advise on your business model, your pricing, your systems, processes and team and they help you to identify and reach new products and markets. Because they have a lateral perspective, they naturally challenge the narrow assumptions that you make about your business.
The Boss – You report to them
The Boss is not really your boss, but they are someone (or a group of people) that you purposely use to keep you on track – a bit like a boss would.
They don’t need to understand your business in detail, or even to understand your industry. Their purpose is to be there for you to brainstorm with, to commit to, to check in with regularly and to hold you accountable to the actions you have committed to doing.
So, what kind of mentor is your mentor?
And if you’ve not got one – what kind of mentor would you like to have?
What do you need more: help with specifics, a ‘big picture’ perspective, or someone to kick you up the bum?
A Role Model, The Oracle, or A Boss – you need one of them, which one is it?
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