Mentorship is a vital aspect of personal and professional growth, especially for business owners navigating the complex world of entrepreneurship. Business owners wear many hats, and it can be a lonely place as they try to master business development, finances, people leadership, product development, long-term strategy, short-term issues etc. On top of that the business will evolve and their role will evolve as the business grows. A good mentor can offer guidance, wisdom, and support, significantly enhancing a business owner’s chances of success. If you aspire to be a proficient mentor for business owners, here are some key principles to follow.
1. Be Person-Centred:
Business mentoring is not about mentoring the business! It is about making the business owner more resourceful, competent, self-aware, effective and confident to lead and grow their business. So, it is not just about helping them solve problems or finding solutions to business challenges, its about developing the person to do it themselves.
2. Build Trust and Rapport:
A solid mentor-mentee relationship is founded on confidentiality, trust and rapport. Establish an open, honest, and non-judgmental environment where the business owner feels comfortable sharing their challenges, fears, and aspirations. Set the scene early through the contracting before the first session, be clear on the parameters of the relationship and be consistent in your role modelling.
3. Listen to Increase Understanding:
Effective communication starts with attentive listening. Allow and encourage the business owner to express their thoughts and concerns fully. Seek and demonstrate understanding by asking clarifying questions. Listen and ask into the root of the business owner’s challenge and look for patterns in their thinking and approach. This is about increasing not only yours, but more importantly their understanding of the issues and opportunities.
4. Share Knowledge and Experience:
Share your own experiences, both successes and failures. Offer insights and lessons learned, explore how they can be applied to the business owner’s situation. Real-life examples can provide valuable context, give them a different perspective and inspire confidence. But … before you share your stories, consider first how this may help the business owner. If you are not clear on this, don’t share – this is not about you!
5. Focus On the Right Things:
A business owner often has many balls in the air at the same time – multiple aspects of the business that demands their attention. A key role of a good mentor is to help the owner focus on the right areas and prioritising their own time and efforts. The sessions should be about working on the business and on themselves – not working in the business.
6. Encourage Continuous Learning:
Promote a culture of continuous learning and improvement. At the end of each session ask: “What did you learn from today’s session?” and “Where else can you apply this?” Encourage the business owner to get feedback, to experiment, to study and to build a network that can expand their knowledge and skillset.
7. Respect Individuality:
Recognise that each business owner is unique with their own strengths, weaknesses, and ambitions. Tailor your mentoring approach to align with their individual needs and preferences. Be ready to adjust your expectations of what a good mentor-mentee relationship looks like i.e. some mentees want deep conversations others are more action oriented. Some are organised while others will be more casual. Some wants regular sessions, others in-frequent check-ins. Some need basic skills development, others just a sounding board.
8. Celebrate Successes:
Too often we focus on weaknesses and problems, and as soon as one is ‘fixed’ we move to the next one. Acknowledge and celebrate the business owner’s accomplishments, regardless of their scale. Celebrating milestones, no matter how small, helps boost morale and encourages continued progress.
9. Develop Yourself:
And finally: You don’t become a great mentor just by bringing experience from running a business yourself – however successful you were. Mentoring is a very different skillset. It is no longer about being great at growing a business, thinking strategically, leading people and finding solutions. Mentoring is about helping others become great at this. It is about helping others learn and their personal growth. It demands empathy, being humble and NOT offering answers even when they may be obvious to you. So, ensure you get good quality mentoring training, so you can mentor with confidence and credibility.
Being a good business mentor is a very different skillset and approach from running a business yourself. It is about growing a person, the business owner, not the business (although that is likely to happen as a result). It demands good mentor training and involves fostering a relationship built on trust, effective communication, and a genuine desire to see the business owner succeed. By focusing on personal development, listening, sharing experiences and encouraging continuous learning, you can play a pivotal role in shaping the trajectory of their development journey as an entrepreneur and as a result their business.Back to News & Blogs Overview