The Value of a Business Mentor
This month I started the mentoring part of my Better Business program so I thought I’d share some of the lessons learnt.
I started this program in June with a one day workshop with an overview of the program’s workbook. The day itself was very interesting and I believe has been beneficial to my business and I’m glad I did it.
I realised that it was completely down to me how much I got out of the program. So I decided I was going to work through the workbook thoroughly and put the effort in – I’m the only one that can make this sea change of mine work. Sure I have a supportive team with my family and friends but they are not creating or building the business, they are loving and supporting me.
So when I took the car in for service I went to a cafe and settled down with the work book and a note book and started working through it.
I was surprised by how challenging I found it, that I had to push myself to focus and concentrate and actually do what is required.
I knew that what I got out of it was directly linked to what I put into it and I wanted to make the most of it so I could get the most out of the mentoring opportunity.
The car was finished before I thought it would be so I realised I would need to finish the work during the rest of the week and because I put serious effort into the first couple of sections the remaining chapters were much easier to complete because I’d already figured out the big picture, where I wanted to be and why.
So when it came to meeting with my business mentor I was feeling rather good about myself – I’d worked through the workbook in detail, being honest and delving deep, I’d just launched my new market stall at Lilyfield and had also trained two new helpers, the jewellery parties are doing well and are really enjoyable to do, I’m getting new shops on board and steadily building up the website – all good.
But having an hour or two with a business mentor isn’t about getting praise for all that you have achieved, it is about looking forward and seeing what is needed to achieve the future goals.
So I came out of the meeting feeling like I had so much ahead of me to achieve, so much to do and not enough time. I got into one of my blues of feeling like I wasn’t achieving and there was so much to do. It wasn’t a good feeling but it is a reflection of my character – I’m achievement motivated – and I had a little life lesson about myself – don’t hang onto the fear or anxiety of aiming to achieve and don’t dwell on achievements (yes, recognise them, but don’t side back smirking to yourself about getting there).
So by the end of the evening I had more perspective on it all – yes, I’m on the right track and yes, I need to keep moving and making it happen.
So by the end of the week I’d taken constructive action on each area needing attention and I’m seeing the results already. I have the business systems in place to let me take advantage of opportunities and I have the self-discipline to settle down and do the work that is needed.
I only developed these key skills and tools by making myself do things in the first place so if you’re looking at how to build a new business or reposition an existing business build your systems and self-discipline by just doing what you need to do – just do it.
So my business mentoring session was challenging and rewarding. It was challenging because I had a conversation with someone who is in business to build other people’s businesses and is direct and accurate. It was rewarding because I choose to make it rewarding and am taking the actions advised and needed.
The Department of State and Regional Development (www.business.nsw.gov.au) has a great mentoring program and many resources for building a business. Remember that governments want businesses to succeed because healthy businesses make for healthy economies. All states have a business development department so go exploring and make it happen – if nothing else, find out what is out there even if it isn’t for you but for a friend and loved one. Support from friends and family makes such a difference.
I really recommend getting involved in a mentoring program and have it as a long term aim for the business and you.
When I finish the Better Business Program and the Mentoring service (another 3 months) I want to be getting involved in another government mentoring program for next year because this is going to give my business the edge and be part of getting me to my goals.
When I look at projects and opportunities I now ask myself “what would be features of a successful version of this project?” and part of the answer to that is mentoring – having someone to talk to and receive advice from about the business and the imitative.
An example is I was looking at advertising in a specific market magazine to build the wholesale side of my business. I know what the costs are for the advertising and was showing my business mentor the magazine when he suggested directly contacting targeted potential wholesale customers with the money instead as it is more direct when my marketing funds are limited and every cent needs to work. And he’s right. That’s what I need to do. So I’ve started getting the list together and planning the marketing campaign and content.
I don’t think the business mentor is going to come up with any Awe-Inspiring Ideas but the value is in refining and targeting my ideas and bringing other logical and smart ones to the table. Business isn’t brain surgery, it is logical and straight forward but I don’t have to be in alone, I can have a support team that also includes a business mentor.
There’s an old statistic that I’ve always found inspiring: 85% of small businesses fail in the first 5 years. 85% of small businesses owned by women succeed in the first 5 years.
One important reason for this success is that women are good at listening to advice and taking it on board. There are a collection of reasons for this success but I think the point about advice is crucial. A Business Mentor is about taking on board an advisor for your business. A Life Coach is about taking on board a mentor for your personal life, but that is the subject of another article!
So go exploring and find a mentor for you and your business!