Mentoring can be a great way of gaining the advice of other business leaders. There are very few challenges that other entrepreneurs haven’t had to tackle already, and a mentor can help you find a different perspective on how you run your own business.
In our latest research, 82% of respondents said working with a mentor made a very positive difference to them and their business.
Your mentoring needs can change depending on what stage you and your business are at, and what challenges you’re facing. Sometimes it’s easier to think of it not as mentoring but just the chance to discuss a topic with someone else, or get their opinion.
You may have more than one mentor, or different mentors at different stages of your business; your mentor may be a man or a woman. A woman mentor may be more likely to understand some of the issues you face as a woman in business.
You’ll get the most out of a mentoring relationship based on trust and clarity of how you will work together, so you need to feel that there is a shared understanding from the outset.
Remember too that to get the most out of the experience it doesn’t have to be all one-way: you can give your mentor feedback too.
Very occasionally those with very niche business ideas or at particular stages of their business growth may benefit from specialist mentoring from established entrepreneurs. Sometimes you even know exactly whose expertise could be just the mentoring help you need – and there’s no harm in asking them (what’s the worst that can happen? If they say no it’s not necessarily a reflection on your business – they are very busy people after all). Even one or two sessions with such experts could be all you need to get on (or stay on) track. But expect that you might have to pay for such specialist mentoring.
There is a difference between mentoring and coaching. Coaching is more structured, short term and aimed at helping you to find your own solutions. Often coaching is a service offered at a cost. But if there are specific areas where you want to develop your own skills it can be very helpful.
Many women have benefited from having a mentor as they start up and grow their own businesses. Find out more about mentoring and where to find a mentor here.