I am a heavy proponent of business mentorship. Throughout the lifetime of your business, having a senior ally, someone experienced in successfully starting and building one or more businesses, can be the difference between your own success or failure. I’ve had my own business mentors and I’ve mentored many other new business owners.
A mentor, along with a coach and mastermind group, help you stay focused, brainstorm ideas, keep you enthused when your motivation is sagging and guide you past stumbling blocks.
What should you find out about your potential small business mentor? Here’s a list of questions to help guide you:
1. Have they mentored anyone before?
2. What kinds of small businesses have they started?
3. What is their business philosophy?
4. How do they structure their mentoring? (phone calls, in person, weekly, monthly, ad hoc?-contact should be regular and frequent, particularly at the beginning of the relationship).
5. Why do they want to mentor anyone?
6. What other kinds of business owners have they mentored?
7. What kind of business associations do they belong to (mentors can connect you with key contacts)?
8. Do they mind if you contact prior mentees?
9. Do they have the time to commit to the mentoring process? (Do you?)
10. How will you each sever the relationship if a) it isn’t working or b) it runs its course?
Make sure you’ve done your own personal research on your potential mentor and that you are prepared to have honest conversations and follow-through on your mentor’s advice. No one wants to mentor in a vacuum. Be grateful and respectful for this person’s time.
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What’s the Difference Between a Small Business Mentor and a Coach
by Steven Schlagel