Who makes a good business mentor?
A mentor is someone who has experienced business success related to whatever endeavour you are undertaking. They will have reflected upon their experience, their successes and failures, in such a way that they have developed the wisdom that comes from perspective. A mentor can ask great questions borne out of their experience that make you think more deeply about what you are doing. They may tell you how to do on some things, but mostly they will ask great questions and be a valuable set of experienced eyes helping you avoid pitfalls and maximise business success.
“The key to being a good mentor is to help people become more of who they already are — not to make them more like you”. — Suze Orman
What are the benefits of a mentor?
By asking great questions, a mentor enables you to think more deeply about what you want from your business. Typically, when you are working hard you are focused on parts of your business. A mentor helps you see the whole; and they help you understand the wider business context for what you are doing.
A mentor is a bit like a zoom lens. They will help you zoom out to see the big picture panoramic view of your business dreams, and they will assist with the close-up view of the problems and roadblocks that need specific attention as well. The power of the mentor is they are not working in the business, so they are able to see both views to enable perspective and wisdom all the time. The business owner is often too engaged with the operational details to maintain that clear view all the time.
A mentor will also help you see your potential and believe in yourself. They are less emotionally involved in the business. They will encourage you and also challenge you to be better, and help release your potential.
Who has a mentor?
Almost every well-known name who has achieved business success credits a mentor (or several mentors). Think Richard Branson of Virgin, Michael Bloomberg (entrepreneur and 3 times mayor of NYC), Mary Barra (CEO of General Motors), Suzie Orman (Television host, author and financial advisor).
While we expect that elite athletes and sports stars and teams must have a coach it can still be viewed as an admission of failure or weakness in business. Somehow many business people feel that their stories are meant to be self-made.