A small business mentor offers professional support and guidance to entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their business. The primary role of a business mentor is to help others achieve their goals and provide essential guidance and knowledge.
With so many mentors available, it’s important to find the right one for you. A good business mentor usually comes with a wealth of experience and expertise to guide you on your journey. Reflect on what it is you need and look for someone who matches these skills. Whether you’re looking to set new goals, broaden your mindset, or scale up your business, a skilled mentor is on hand to unlock your potential.
In this guide, we will show you exactly how a small business mentor can help, with useful tips and techniques along the way.
Are Business Coaches and Business Mentors the Same?
Mentoring and coaching are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually have distinct differences. Let’s start with the definition of each.
A mentor is someone who shares their knowledge, skills, and experience to help another person develop and grow.
A coach is someone who provides guidance to a client on their goals and helps them reach their full potential.
Despite their similarities, the main difference between mentoring and coaching lies in their approach. Mentoring is more directive, while coaching is non-directive. This means that during mentoring meetings, the mentor takes a more active role, doing most of the talking and providing guidance based on their own experiences. In coaching, however, the coach takes a more passive role, asking questions and giving the person being coached space to reflect and talk more.
Both mentoring and coaching are designed to help people reach their goals and achieve their full potential by leveraging the experience of the mentor or coach.
So, mentoring and coaching are both valuable tools for personal and professional development. Understanding the difference between the two can help you choose the right approach for your needs and goals.
Setting the Foundation for Success
A successful business begins with clear goals and a thorough business plan. Once you have these in place, you can feel confident in taking the next steps. An experienced business mentor can help you lay these foundations and set you up for success.
Identifying Your Goals
Goals are an essential part to the success of your business. Not only do they give you something to focus on and work towards, but they also enable you to set clear targets, make decisions and measure success.
In order to identify the right goals for your business, a small business mentor will introduce you to useful techniques including the SMART framework. This tool is designed to create goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. While there are a few different schools of thought around creating goals, a good mentor will help you identify a strategy that works for your business.
They may also look at the bigger picture by asking you some key questions around the core values of your business. Questions like “where do you want to be in 5/10/20 years?” will help build a clearer vision.
Understanding Your Business
Now that you’ve identified some key goals, you can start to understand your business in more detail. A mentor will provide you with useful tools to analyze your business and gain some clarity. This will enable you to identify key trends and make decisions to help your business grow.
You’ll also need to determine what is working well and what could be improved. A mentor will be able to support you through this process by asking questions about your customers, competitors, profit margins, resources and other tools. They can also help you to understand and use your data. To get started, read up on your financial statements, operational and analytical reports.
Building a Strong Foundation
In order to build a strong foundation for your business, you will need a clear and succinct business strategy. A business strategy is a vision for your organization, with goals to help you get there.
Business strategies are vital to the longevity of your company. They will set you apart from others, increase efficiency and enhance your marketing plan. A well-developed business strategy will also help you to secure funding applications and collaborate with other like minded organizations. This is where a mentor comes in handy. They will enable you to develop a clear vision for your business by identifying what’s important to you.
Once you have refined your strategy, you will be left with a solid foundation that will move your business forward.
Overcoming Challenges and Obstacles
Before we get started, it’s important to note that all entrepreneurs are faced with challenges from time to time. Without the right tools and techniques, we can often allow these challenges to overcome us, causing additional stress and exhaustion. Luckily, a business mentor is well versed in this domain and can help you find ways to overcome obstacles.
Identifying and Addressing Challenges
Finding a good work life balance, cash flow management and marketing are some of the most common challenges faced by entrepreneurs. An experienced mentor will help you identify these challenges and address them head on.
If you need help with guarding cash flow, a mentor can show you how to create a budget that works. If you’re finding it hard to do it all, then they may look at your current schedule or provide you with some time management tips. Perhaps you need help with delegating tasks or saying no to new projects. This will free up some time and reduce your workload, enabling you to do the things you enjoy. Business coaches and mentors will also empower you to feel confident with your decisions and provide advice around record keeping, marketing and recruitment. They can also give you some useful techniques to help you cope better under pressure.
Time Management and Productivity
Many entrepreneurs start out on their small business venture with other jobs, hats and commitments. Juggling work, family, friends and hobbies can be exhausting and overwhelming especially when you are trying to set up a new business.
If you are starting to fall behind with tasks and wish there were more hours in the day, it’s probably a good time to seek the help of a professional business mentor. Your mentor will assess your current situation and work with you to improve your time management skills and increase productivity. You may decide to develop a time management strategy, use priority lists, or undertake some early morning calming techniques to set you up for the day.
A mentor can also teach you how to break tasks into smaller manageable chunks and provide strategies to minimize distractions, practice decision making, improve concentration, set boundaries and manage stress.
You may have heard of the term resilience but what does it mean in business? For an entrepreneur, resilience is the ability to effectively and successfully manage a crisis or setback. Essentially, if your business has solid foundations, they should be able to withstand and even grow from any challenges that arise. Resilient entrepreneurs tend to experience less stress resulting in a happier workplace.
A business mentor can help you achieve resilience by building your confidence and offering some resilience training. In order to develop a resilient business, you also need to build trust in your workforce and lead with empathy and awareness. If you work alone, consider what changes need to be made to enhance the longevity of your business.
Developing a Growth Mindset
If you’re an avid reader of my blogs then you’ll know exactly how much I value the growth mindset. Put simply, the definition of mindset is based on the way we think including our attitudes and beliefs. Instead of a fixed mindset, where you may believe that you are not capable of making improvements or learning new things, a growth mindset is the belief that you can improve and develop new abilities.
In order to achieve a growth mindset, there are a few things we can do. Start by recognising any negative thoughts that enter your mind and write them down. Once you have identified them you can start to challenge them and ask if there is any truth in them. Find a new belief, research it and take some actions to reinforce it. An experienced mentor will help to identify and overcome any limiting beliefs that arise. They will also give you techniques to reinforce the growth mindset and make it part of your identity.
Scaling Your Business
Scaling your business means setting it up so that it can grow. It’s also making sure that your business is able to cope with the growth. If you suddenly encounter a rise in sales, could you honestly meet that need? Ask yourself whether your business has the capacity and capability to grow. If it doesn’t then you may want to look at scaling it up.
This is where a mentor can really help. They will take you through the step by step process of scaling a business. They will show you how to evaluate your business and develop a plan. They can also connect you to funding opportunities and help you create a budget for this project. While scaling up your business can seem scary, a mentor can help boost your confidence and provide the tools you need to grow.
Celebrating success is a great way to improve wellbeing, increase motivation and create a positive work environment. If you have employees, it can also boost staff morale and attract potential applicants.
No matter how big or small they may seem, our success stories are worth celebrating. As entrepreneurs, we can easily get caught up amongst the challenges and setbacks, which leaves us feeling totally and utterly exhausted. Recognising and celebrating our achievements can shift that mindset and leave us feeling empowered. A mentor will show you how to identify and measure achievements and find appropriate ways to celebrate them.
Some ways of celebrating achievements in the workplace include:
- Saying a simple “well done”
- Sharing success stories
- Organizing a day out with the team
- Offering or taking an extra day off
- Paying it forward to the people who helped
- Awards ceremonies
- Buying gifts
A business mentor can provide you with the support and guidance you need to build a successful business and achieve your goals. Coming from an experienced background, they will have plenty of techniques and strategies designed to motivate and challenge your thinking. A good mentor will adapt to your needs, offering support with everything from goal setting to financial reporting. They will usually come with a wealth of resources and shared experiences to help you feel supported along the way.
Another great benefit of having a mentor is that they often come with an entire network of connections. Some mentors even offer networking opportunities to help you learn and connect with other entrepreneurs. They are an invaluable asset to your team and will guide you every step of the way.
So how do you get started with a mentor? First thing is you need to find the right one for you, so listen to my podcast episode “10 questions for hiring the perfect business coach”. While the title here is business coach, the questions inside apply to both and are there to help you make the right decision. It prompts you to ask questions like ‘Do they have the experience?’ and ‘What do I want to get from this?’.
Each mentor has their unique offering and approach. For me, I want to empower you to design a location-independent lifestyle through online entrepreneurship, to achieve time freedom, location freedom, and financial freedom, and you can get started with my free masterclass.