The Business Mentor

To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act.

Anatole France

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

The Business Mentor

One cannot simply become a business mentor by reading books. The ability to mentor comes only through hands-on experience running successful small businesses. Obviously, the more experience a mentor has, the greater the potential benefit to you.

But not all experienced business owners make good mentors. An effective mentor also has to have a passion for helping others and a desire to share his knowledge and expertise. He has to be a keen observer, an effective listener, and have excellent communication skills.

The business mentor/protege relationship is a very special one and can be most effective only where there is mutual trust, respect and admiration.

For the mentor to be able to help you most effectively, you will let him into your life, sharing your innermost thoughts. You will discuss your finances, your shortcomings, your fears, and your struggles – as well as your successes. You must have confidence in your mentor and know that all information you share with him will be kept in confidence.

Your mentor becomes your trusted adviser, friend, and teacher, who is deeply concerned about your well-being and the success of your business.

The mentor’s goal is to help you look at your business in new ways. Perhaps you are “too close to the forest to see the trees.” Or you are so bogged down with the everyday challenges facing small business owners that you haven’t found the time to assess exactly what is needed to move your business forward.

The business mentor is truly objective and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to you. You also have someone who will challenge you, add to your skills, help you maintain your motivation, and celebrate your success.

There are a few other things to note about a business mentor. Many of these are also applicable to a business coach or a business consultant.

The mentor must:

  • Be enthusiastic
  • Be totally committed to your success
  • Be both candid and sensitive
  • “Walk the talk” and provide inspiration
  • Have foresight and anticipate potential problems
  • Be a problem solver
  • Be authentic and “practice what he preaches”
  • Know how to motivate
  • Encourage ongoing learning
  • Know when it is time to push and when to pull back
  • Be empathetic
  • Be eagle-eyed, a good observer
  • Give advice without dictating action
  • Help you see the possibilities
  • Get personally involved
  • Be reliable, self-confident, and knowledgeable
  • Act as a sounding board