Today, new businesses may need mentoring more than ever before. Growth is vital to any enterprise, but managing and mastering the process of growth isn’t always easy. For many organisations, understanding the next right step, moving to the next level or simply increasing the skills base – individually or collectively – is essential to survival.
Many business leaders seek out information from books, DVDS, seminars or television programmes, but while this wisdom is valuable, implementing change cannot be done theoretically – it requires support, hands-on experience and the ability to be guided through the change process.
Richard Branson, “It’s always good to have a helping hand at the start. I wouldn’t have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker.”
Business mentoring – the relationship between one business owner and another where one brings experience and the other makes use of it – is not only a highly effective process, it allows for the interplay of ideas and development of networks in a way that almost no other knowledge exchange does.
Here are just three reasons why:
- Wisdom – anybody can give advice, but wisdom is advice that’s been road-tested. While most people think they know how to run a business, only those who have done the job can speak with experience – and that’s what a business mentor does.
- Perspective – a mentor knows how things work, but also has a wider perspective of the business world as a whole – as a result they can often see a whole process while the business owner can only see ‘the problem’.
- Skills – Mentors exist to develop individuals, talents and businesses. As a result, they are as likely to show the business owner a gap in their own skill set as to spot a problem in the cash-flow or production process. This means that organisations with mentors are likely to be more robust, more adaptable and more able to adjust to change and to make use of it to grow.
James Dyson on his mentor, Jeremy Fry, “After we finished the prototype, I said, “Now what?” He said, “We make it.” And then? “We sell it.” It was simple as that. Soon, we were selling 200 boats a year.”
In addition, good business mentors also provide a sounding board, bring networking skills and allow entrepreneurs to develop their own teams – mentoring cascades down so that everybody involved in the process benefits – it’s not a selfish interchange between two business leaders but a wide transmission of excellence that cascades through the organisation, allied to an ability to recognise potential problems before they become actual road-blocks to business growth.
Specialist understanding of a business area is a rare and valued commodity and business mentors should be bringing deep experience of their field to those they mentor. Ben Muis, an IOEE Certified mentor, has over two decades of grounding in the fashion industry and serves as a fashion industry specialist mentor for the StartupLoans programme. He offers specific mentoring sessions that draw on his background in international corporate environments to support start-up organisations in the fashion, sports and luxury industries through their challenging early days.
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