If you’re serious about making a success of your start up business, then getting the right business support will be important to you. As we always say at the Business Hubs no-one should build their business alone. Business support in the form of knowledge and resources will help you put the right processes in place, invest in the right activities and avoid making common mistakes that many start up entrepreneurs do.
There is lots of business support available. Online you can read numerous articles, download resources, and access free tools or subscription services. Offline there are business groups, local support networks and business training available for you and your staff. Your Business Hubs are part of both these worlds, providing weekly talks and workshops; mastermind sessions; networking and support; and online resources too.
But what about a business mentor, could they fast track your start ups’ success?
How A Business Mentor Can Help Your Start Up
Starting up a business alone is really tough. Not just because of the volume of work you need to do, or because of the steep learning curve you will be on, but also because you’re only answerable to yourself.
No one really cares whether you sink or swim – apart from your immediate family who may be depending on you to make it a success. Of course, people will sympathise with you if things go wrong, they may offer you support and advice, and will be delighted if it works out in the end. But ultimately they’re not invested in your start up in the same way as you are, unless they’ve quite literally invested cash or are a partner in the business.
If you’re facing things alone, and most of us are at the beginning, it pays to invest in a business mentor who will keep you on track and will make you accountable for your actions (and inactions). Having a 3rd party who is not a friend or relative provides some objectivity and detachment that is refreshing and challenging in equal measure.
They can be a sounding board for your ideas and should challenge you to explore them fully, weighing up their strengths and weaknesses and whether they are really an opportunity or not. A business mentor will keep you focused on your business goals, keeping check on what you have achieved and what still needs to be done.
They will also help you understand the importance of different business activities and prioritise what is important to your business; ensuring you engage in proactive activities that are aligned with your business, not just things that any old start up should be doing.
A business mentor will use their experience to help guide you, and their connections to put you in touch with the people you need to grow. They’ll help you understand what your business needs and do what they can to get you to that place.
Do You Have To Pay For A Business Mentor?
While most commercial mentors charge for their services, others may do it because they want to pass on their experience and knowledge and help other start ups succeed. When choosing a mentor it’s important to make sure they have the expertise you need and time to help you grow. For these reasons you may find that paying for mentoring is the best option, and in many ways that makes you even more committed to getting value out of your mentor.
However, there are other options. Like me, you could join a Mastermind group that provides peer-to-peer mentoring. Often a more experienced mentor heads these up, helping to steer the group and ensuring that everyone gets what they need. These are usually paid for, are sometimes by invitation only, and are generally less expensive than a one-to-one. Some of our Business Hubs run very successful mini-Mastermind sessions where our members put forward particular challenges and attendees work together to find solutions.
Alternatively, you could approach someone you know who has the expertise you need, for example a business associate you’ve met at networking group. Or someone in your industry that you admire and feel would be a great mentor.
Whatever option you choose it’s important to make sure they have the skillsets that complement yours, and the personality to get the best out of you. Yes, you want someone who you can get on with, but you also need someone who’s prepared to challenge you and give you a hard time if you don’t do what you say you will.
The questions below can help you identify the right mentor for your start up business:
- Are you comfortable with them and can you trust them to be honest?
- Do they understand your vision and are they prepared to get behind it?
- Do they have the relevant industry or business knowledge you need right now?
- Have they started up their own business, do they have first hand experience of the challenges you might face?
- Have they got time to provide mentoring?
- Are they well connected and can they put you in touch with people who can help your business grow?
As you can see from these questions, a mentor doesn’t have to be someone who promotes themselves as a business mentor. It could be another business owner you know that has the relevant experience and skills that you need at this point in your business journey.
That’s why being part of your local business community is really important because it helps you connect with people who can offer you the business support you need.
Our Business Hubs are great places to meet people who can help your business grow. We have bonafide business mentors in our membership, but also people who have a wealth of experience they can offer and a desire to give back by sharing it with others. You could find a business mentor in one our hubs.