Entrepreneurship and mentorships are often seen as going hand-in-hand. Business mentors are as old as concept of entrepreneurs themselves. From Oprah and Maya Angelou to Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, famous mentorships have a powerful impact on the lives of entrepreneurs. Having a strong figure in your life to help steady you through the currents of growing your business can be a lifesaver. While a mentor doesn't have to be someone in the limelight, it's important to find someone who'll help you bring a change and the impact you desire.
We asked entrepreneurs and business owners about the role of a mentor in their business and here are the responses.
#1- Keeps me focused
When I lose focus and go off course, he is there to yell at me and ask me what the hell I am doing. He knows my potential, and it is his job to make sure that I live up to it. I didn't hire him for that job, by the way, he just took it and thank God he did. He also finances me on property acquisition from time to time. He likes to keep his fingers in the pie I guess.
Thanks to Benjamin Ross, My Active Agent!
#2- Ignites ideas and actions
Getting an opportunity to transform the way you think and act in the world is a gift that a skilled mentor in business can do. Business owners learn new things every day, they have to in order to stay in business. The action of thriving in business is the outcome of transformation. Mentoring is a lasting and powerful tool that ignites ideas and actions to transform many lives, not just the person who was mentored.
Thanks to Mickey Mikeworth, Mikeworth Consulting!
#3- Several roles
A mentor is very important to me, and especially to my business. I receive advice, support and guidance from him. He also gives me tips on how to improve my problem-solving tips and helps me develop my leadership skills. This is someone that I always share ideas and my problems with, and they act as my sounding board at all times.
Thanks to Annastasia Kamwithi, Socialfish.org!
#4- Sources of inspiration
In my corporate life I had bosses, senior women or alums from my alma mater who took me under their wings to help me advance and show me the ropes As a small business owner mentors can also be invaluable sources of inspiration, advice, encouragement and can help you avoid rookie mistakes (with hiring, fundraising, etc.) when you are starting out. They can also make key introductions so that you avoid getting burned by service providers or potential investors who have mixed reputations. I have seen several situations where a lot of time and money could have been wasted but was not. Expectations have to be managed, for me I had mentors who I counted on for tough love and others to help me expand my footprint and elevate my profile in the community. Mentors have different strengths and connections that can help. I think everyone even established entrepreneurs can benefit from strong mentoring. The world is always changing and we can all learn new things along the way. My biggest mentors include: My dad, CEO of a public company who showed me that leaders can be compassionate, strong and successful. Former boss, made me defend my point of view and be tough, not to be scared to fail or speak up. Senior woman colleague, grace under pressure, always be best prepared and kill them with kindness. Their advice has helped me be thick-skinned, brave, kind and smart which has helped me succeed both as an entrepreneur and within organizations. I am eternally grateful for their support and advice.
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!
#5- As a sanity check
I've got several people I consider mentors; some more informal than others. For me, mentors generally serve as a sanity check for something I'm thinking about (things like how to handle different sales/marketing scenarios, how to bootstrap in various ways, how/when to push back, when to say no, etc).. Different people have different types of knowledge and wisdom to share, so I try to match my question/topic to the individual's strengths. On occasion I'll ask for ideas around a particular topic, but I generally bound the question to things they've tried in the past, so as not to burden them by draining too much of their mental energy at any one time. I try hard to treat them like the precious resource that they are.
Thanks to David LaVine, RocLogic Marketing, LLC!
#6- Provides a sense of communion
We all feel somewhat special at what we do in our business and career and with that feeling comes a sense of isolation that others may not relate to the stresses, pressures or even type day we might have encountered and most time succeeded at. Having a mentor is like seeing another Northern White Rhino when you thought you were the only one left in existence. Not only a sense of relief washes over you but an enhanced desire to share information. Oftentimes we see mentors as teachers but oftentimes to know that someone else we know, exists in our world to listen and share. A sense of communion occurs with my mentor, a deep appreciation for the fact we exist and exist successfully. It's like having your call to the wild answered in the most spectacular way!
Thanks to Kimberly Friedmutter
#7- Supply accountability and grit
When you enlist the support of a mentor unbelievable things can happen. I know from my own experience that when I’ve sought out a trusted mentor, they seem pull something out of me that I didn’t know was there. In fact, a mentor whom I love dearly saw my potential, listened to my goals, and forced me to dig deep… deeper than I would have had I been left to my own devices. There wasn’t a lot of fluff. We didn’t have bells and whistles. What we did have was an endless supply of accountability and grit. I needed someone who knew how to get me to respond and step out in faith to achieve my goals. Had I not reached out and partnered with my current mentor or mentors I’ve worked with in the past, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Thanks to Trivinia Barber, Priority VA!
#8- Pushes me out of my comfort zone
After attending a women’s business conference, I met the organizer, Erin Joy from Black Dress Circle, who is a no-nonsense business badass. I joined her group and had monthly mentoring with her along with a small group of ladies, which was empowering. In my first individual session with Erin, she asked me to review my challenges in growing my business. To my answers, she quickly replied, “So, you’re not growing your business because you are doing $10-an-hour work.” That quickly got my attention; I restructured my business plan and growth followed. I needed someone to push me out of my comfort zone. I couldn’t just work for my company — I had to work on it.
Thanks to Shannon Shores, Wellex!
#9 – Development of leadership skills
For entrepreneurial success, it is mandatory to equip oneself with some necessary traits. In the list of those required attributes, the leadership skills might lead the rest. Business mentoring plays a vital role in enhancing and nurturing the leadership quality of mentees. Mentoring programs are different for different types of people and can include whole teams or single employees. Leadership skills may include decision making, communication skills, undivided attention, or managerial capability. Research shows that those employees who attended coaching and mentoring sessions have more insight on leadership skills.
Thanks to Jeremy Ong, HUSTLR!