Mentoring is most often defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) supports and encourages people to develop specific skills and knowledge that will maximize their business potential and improve their performance.
A business mentor provides a confidential sounding board, thinking room, and support for working through crucial and often complex decisions.
A mentor should be someone who is in the same or similar industry as you, but further along in their career. He/she is someone with more entrepreneurial business experience than you, who serves as a trusted confidante over an extended period of time, usually free of charge. Because they have a greater body of knowledge and experience, they are able to teach you invaluable lessons that you’d otherwise have to learn the hard way.
According to Miranda Morley, “Would-be successful business owners need assistance from others who have an intimate knowledge of how business works. Many small business owners try to get that information from business books and classes. While these can be helpful on their own, they are more helpful alongside business mentoring. In a business mentoring relationship, a seasoned business owner meets with a new or potential business owner one-on-one to give advice and boost morale.”
Here are six benefits of having a mentor:
1. Gain experience not usually shared in books.
Chances are, your mentor's been exactly where you are right now. They may have also made plenty of mistakes along the way, which you naturally hear about as you two meet or share insights in whatever way. They've been there, done that, and have seen it all.
According to Sheila Eugenio, a guest writer at Entrepreneur magazine,
“Experience is a very expensive asset -- yet it's crucial to business success. There's only so much about a person's experience you can gain from books. It's an unstated truth that most authors do not feel comfortable revealing everything about themselves in books. Some personal experiences may be too intimate to be shared, yet how they dealt with it can help an inexperienced entrepreneur's career”
Mentorship is one guaranteed way to gain experience from others who have gone ahead of you and avoid the mistakes they made in the past.
2. Network opportunities
Business mentors can put you in touch with contacts who can help you make your business more successful. They can be an incredible asset when it comes to professional networking. Finding a mentor who you aspire to be like, within your chosen profession also helps you add to your network. It’s highly likely that should your mentor not have the answer to a question or problem, they should know someone who will. They can introduce you to like-minded people and some of these could be valuable connections throughout your career.
A successful mentor has an unlimited network of people who can benefit your career. Since they are already invested in your success, it only makes sense for them to let you tap into their network of people when the need arises. Building a network of influential people who you can call on and that add value to your experiences is a great way to continue your own personal development. Talking through things with people more experienced than yourself can help you to learn and grow quicker.
3. They help you focus
It’s all too easy to get distracted these days so having someone to help you stay on track and focus your attention on the important things will help you maintain your personal growth and smash your professional targets. Motivation can be a hard thing to manufacture but telling your mentor you’re going to achieve something and setting yourself a goal means you have someone to hold you accountable to these goals. This means you’re more likely to take action and will therefore see results quicker.
4. Confidence to Make Better Decisions
“Knowing that you have a credible mentor to turn to can give you confidence when facing difficult business situations. Similarly, good mentors will praise you when you have made good decisions. Praise can enable you to see yourself as a wise and experienced business person. Seeing yourself confidently this way will help you stand your ground when you must defend or stand by your business decisions”, says Miranda Morley.
They can offer you impartial advice from a professional point of view, which may help you see opportunities and challenges from a more constructive perspective. Business mentors can help you look at problems and situations from perspectives that you would not have thought of on your own
6. Improving Key Skills
Business mentors help you develop your business skills. They helped you to identify and correct gaps in generic skills and knowledge.
Some other benefit is that a mentor will help you stay in business longer, encouragement, personal development, and feedback.