Tweak Your Biz » Management » Mentor

Mentor



Last time I covered the acronym “BUSINESS”. The post received a few good comments so this time I’ll cover: Mentor

M

All businesses need mentors.  Whether their owners are prepared to admit  it or not is a different matter.  I’ve come across people who are determined to do it themselves and shun any form of advice given to them. We all need someone that we can turn to for advice and help at different stages of our business development.  It is the business owner who doesn’t admit that and make use of such mentors that makes life that little bit harder for him/herself.  Mentors come in different guises and sometimes having a narrow view of what a mentor is, will restrict the help that can be received and utilised.

E

Enterprise boards.  Love ‘em or hate ‘em they have a fantastic bank of information, courses and mentors on hand to help businesses of all sizes.  They are usually one of the first ports of call for any budding new business owner as well as the troubled one who badly needs help and fast.  The quality and service provided by such boards is second to none in Ireland as they often provide their services at subsidised rates too which makes them affordable to most businesses.  Every county has one, so there really is no excuse for not tapping into this resource.

N

Non business mentors are usually the friend and family kind.  Everybody likes to give advice, and new business owners are often soft targets for some well-intentioned advice.  Some can have some really sound advice and others really bad.  There are those that just seem to have a wealth of really good life experiences that are worth listening to and tapping into now and again.  Just because they don’t run their own business does not mean they don’t have sound practical tips. I’ve been given some really good advice from people that don’t run businesses, yet do manage people on a day-to-day basis and that advice has been invaluable to me.

T

Trial and error.  Don’t give up because you don’t happen to like the mentor you’ve been assigned.  I’ve recently heard of three people who were assigned mentors from different public bodies.  The first of them had a really bad experience and felt like they had been given a bum-deal, yet they didn’t request a new mentor because they were afraid to do so.  The second got a mentor that they felt didn’t listen to them, made plans for their business without consulting them about it and they immediately went back to source and requested a mentor who would mentor and not dictate to them.  The third got a mentor who listened from the outset, questioned the client to find out if they were suitable for them before continuing to mentor them.

O

Over the counter mentors is what I call those that hire out their skills.  These are usually people who have developed and honed the skills they are mentoring on over the years and not only can they “talk the talk” they have usually “walked the walk” and got burnt along the way, licked their wounds and come back better and stronger.  Now they offer their services for a fee and what you are paying for here is that expertise so that you don’t get burnt too.  A lot of these mentors are worth the fees they charge for the knowledge they impart.  Many of them can also be found on the speaking circuit and paying to hear them speak is often cheaper than hiring them in person.

R

Realistic expectations of what a mentor can help you with will make a huge difference on the effect that they will have on your business.  Remember they are there to help and advise you in the running of your business, they are not there to run your business for you.  Often new business owners can feel intimidated by the experience their mentors have and can have a “doe in the headlights” attitude and not listen properly.  However once past that they do find that they have a fantastic resource to tap into.  Mentors use their time wisely, don’t waste yours.

Have you had a really good mentor that has helped you to get where you are today in your business?  How did they help you? What do you do differently as a result?



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The Author:

Mairéad Kelly developed the Cute Honey System - Business training, coaching & mentoring for Mumpreneurs & Mum Biz Owners who want to buzz their business into a hive of productivity while raising young children & often can’t get out to training events, morning or evening network events due to family commitments and/or a lack of finances. http://www.cutehoney.ie

Add Your Comment

  • http://twitter.com/fredchannel Fred

    I don’t have much experience with mentors to be honest. If I had worked with one I would have my reservations when it comes to “realistic expectations”. Never liked the word “reality” and wouldn’t feel comfortable having someone telling me that what I want to achieve is not “realistically possible”, for instance. I guess that’s how it goes though if you want to work with a mentor…This post also reminded me of the post “Heroes and Mentors”. Worth reading http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/10/heroes-and-mentors.html

  • http://www.encouragingexcellence.ie/ Mairéad Kelly

    I don’t have lots of experience with paid for mentors either. There are however many others mentors out there whose advice I have taken on board. I think some people hire mentors expecting them to “fix” all their problems for them, which to me is completely unrealistic, they can only advise. Reality is what you make it.

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Hi Mairead, I’ve been lucky to have many mentors over the years; invariably these have been successful people that have taken an interest in me. One thing that has always been present in these relationships was respect.

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    On a similar note, I try very hard to ‘listen’ to others (when I know what they’re saying is valuable) and then take what I can.

    Listening is a very under-stated and effective way to learn from others AND everyone loves someone who really listens to what they say.

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    A great post Mairead – I really enjoyed it thank you!

    The world is full of free mentors – we just need to notice them, and LISTEN!!

  • Debi Harper

    Thank you very much Niall for the opportunity  to blog for
    TYB, I really can’t stress enough how important the planning and execution of a
    good marketing plan is for business. Not implementing a proper plan can lead to
    disastrous results not only financially but on the future of your business. I
    am a great believer in the value aspect rather than cost issues. Oh that could
    be another blog:) The Value an app can bring to your business.

  • http://www.garybembridge.com/ Gary Bembridge

    Great article. The key, as you say, is standing out in the crowd. So not only does your App have to be unique, differentiated and offer something others do not, then you then need to make sure people in the target are aware of it. The best is through recommendation – either as Apple (for example) has it as one of the featured ones in your category – or by trusted 3rd parties who will shout about it. 

  • Debi Harper

    Hi Gary, thank you very much.What a seriously impressive background you have,I am going to sign up to your blogs:) learn from the greats.

  • Debi Harper

    Thank you Helen for taking the time to comment and the welcome, really appreciated. Asking is so hard for many people, myself included:) but so rewarding  and if people like your product they are more than happy to review. If they don’t like it then its a great opportunity to find out why and see if something can be done to help. We have been very fortunate to have been able to turn some negative reviews into positives all it takes is communication. Practice makes perfect:)

  • Debi Harper

    Thank you Debbie, it is such a fast growing area and marketing is such a major part of having an app. Nothing worse than paying out a lot of money to have an app developed and not getting the downloads. Everyone would like the next Angry Birds app but they must remember that the marketing budget for that app was huge and in my opinion the game was only successful because of the fantastic marketing appproach.