The role of a mentor in your business
Business mentoring is all about helping you get the most out of your business. Sometimes you need someone on your side with fresh ideas and who can keep you going when the going gets tough. When you’re running a company, you need a mentor whose role is to challenge you, ask the right questions and be a trusted advisor.
Why do you need a business mentor?
It’s especially important that you work with a business mentor when you’re trying to make changes in your business. Most people come to me when they are grappling with trying to do something different with their business.
Sometimes you just need to talk through your ideas with someone who has a lot more experience in business and get some constructive input to make your plans a reality. But the role of a mentor should also be to go with you on your journey, to be excited about what you’re trying to do. And at the same time, your mentor must have enough experience to keep you from making mistakes that are going to delay or jeopardise what you want to do.
When you need a business mentor
You need help to grow the business
A new strategy
Skills and experience
Where are we going?
The difference between free and paid for business mentoring
Free business mentor
This is usually someone who has retired and wants to give something back by mentoring young people, for example through the Prince’s Trust.
This option is great, if you don’t have much budget and want some support to keep you on track. And if you can get a business mentor who has the right kind of experience and knowledge to mentor you for free, that’s a good choice.
A professional business mentor
The second kind of business mentor is someone like me who does this as their profession and business. You’d expect someone who has run a business and has extensive experience of being a mentor for all kinds of businesses. Someone who is able to do much more than just listen and be a sounding board for your ideas for the business.
This kind of business mentor will have a proven methodology for how they help your business to move forward faster. And a proven track record of working with other businesses.
Of course, the other difference between the two types is cost. The first kind is usually a volunteer, so you don’t usually have to pay for their services. And the second kind costs money.
How does business mentoring work?
Different business mentors work in different ways. If you’re working with a volunteer mentor, you’d probably see them for a coffee for an hour every month and have a chat about your business and how you’re getting on.
Some organisations will come into your business for a couple of days at a time, run extensive workshops, consult with senior staff and organise strategy days. This is more of a corporate approach, suitable for businesses with a few hundred employees.
As I specialise in working with business owners with less than 30 employees, I prefer to free up as much time as possible for the owner to get into action and work on their business, so my process is much simpler.
We get together twice a month online. In between meetings, we keep the process going by email and phone. If there’s something urgent or ongoing, we might have some catch-up Zoom sessions between our main meetings.
Why get an online business mentor?
You want to work with the person who is the best fit for your business. The one who is up to date in their approach, who you click with, and the one who you feel cares about your business. That may not be the person you happen to meet at a local business networking event, or who comes up in Google as being a few streets away.
You need the best business mentor for you and your company. That might mean hopping on a Zoom call every couple of weeks.
Plus, working with an online business mentor does make the process more efficient for everyone. Before I took my mentoring online, clients had to travel to see me, find a place to park, and wait for me to make them a coffee. Now, we’re in the same (Zoom) room instantaneously.
How much does a UK business mentor cost?
I charge on a sliding scale between £900 and £1200 per month for business mentoring, depending on the kind of business you’re running, what stage you’re at and how much more money I think you’re likely to make as a result of working with me.
The fee for a business mentor should, I think, be linked to the return on that investment you’ll get in the long run, which is why I have this sliding scale.
I regularly see clients who have recouped that investment in the first couple of months of working with me, because I always look for the quick wins that will put money into the business fast.
Clients tend to stay with me for six to twelve months. But the financial return on investment stays forever because the changes we make will be cumulative over time.
Will this make me more profitable?
A business mentor will help you to get your business in shape so you can make more money. That’s simple – you make an investment of time and money, and you expect your business to become more profitable.
Those profits should come from increased turnover because your business mentor has helped you to get your marketing right, be able to set the right prices and bring in more customers.
Business mentoring should also help your business become more profitable because you’re more efficient and effective.
Your business mentor will work with you in areas like personal productivity, simple automation for your business, and prioritising your time to spend on the areas which will make the most difference to your business.
What results should I expect?
You’re looking for two kinds of results – financial results plus making you feel more confident and that you enjoy your business more.
I call my work “helping people to make more money and have more fun”
When you feel that you are in control of your business and you have a clear plan of action that you totally believe in, you can start to enjoy running your company more. And when you add in seeing those financial results, running a business becomes a joyful creative enterprise, instead of a hard slog.
Keep in touch
You might be reading all of this and thinking “yes, that sounds good, but I’m not quite ready yet.” That’s fine, although it’s also fine to book in for a chat even if you’re not totally sure business mentoring is right for you at the moment.
There’s tons of advice on running a successful business on the site here, and I send out exclusive content by email every week with tips, ideas and inspiration to help you build your business. Here’s how to get your hands on that…
Questions to ask a business mentor
An ex-bank manager, academic, or somebody without substantial business experience who has just done a course might not be the right person for you.
They might have such an excellent reputation that they don’t need to do any marketing, so you can’t always judge a book by its cover. But if somebody has a very tired website or hasn’t blogged since 2012, they might not understand modern marketing techniques.
It’s very important to get a business mentor you can get on with, and who you can trust. You’re going to be spending some very intensive time with them. But don’t just pick one that you like – this is not your best mate for going to the pub with.
This is just as important as whether you click with them. You need to make sure you respect where they're coming from.
Get a business mentor with enough experience to have worked in an area that is at least similar to yours, so that they can understand the culture you work in
Some people specialise in finance and don't know too much about marketing. And others have expertise in marketing, but won't be able to help you with your P&L or gross margin challenges. The best business mentors will be able to do both.
knowledge + support = success
A great business mentor is your trusted advisor, on your side, helping you to develop a clear plan to move your business forward.