Eight key factors in selecting the right mentor.
A mentor, a counselor, a consultant, a coach, an advisor, a teacher, are titles given to caring persons who are willing and able to provide support and knowledge to individuals who seek guidance during various stages of development.
A parent is a mentor for a child. A high school student is assigned a guidance counselor. When a student’s education is nearing its end, there is a career coach to assist in directing the student towards the most appropriate job or career path that matches his or her skills.
For many fortunate journeymen, a mentor is a relative, or a friend or a colleague who provides the needed advice without compensation. Everyone needs a mentor at different stages of life. Many successful people acknowledge that mentorship played an important role on their journey.
The definition of mentorship:
Mentorship can be defined as advice or guidance provided by an experienced person, or what might be called “one on one education”. Seldom does a business owner have all the skills needed to maximize productivity and profitability.
They certainly need a mentor when they start a new venture. If an entrepreneur does not have a team comprised of shareholders, employees, and paid consultants, mentorship plays a vital role in providing guidance and objectivity. Recognizing personal weaknesses and acknowledging the hurdles to be faced is the first step to be taken on the road towards success.
Unfortunately, not every business owner is prepared to accept advice from a third party. Entrepreneurs who are not receptive to mentorship often experience a loss of both time and money.
Business failure can be a direct result of not listening and taking advice from a qualified mentor who shows an interest in providing guidance.
The selection of the right mentor:
The selection of the “right” mentor can impact both short-term and long-term goals.
How does a small business owner access the mentor, the consultant or the advisor who is best qualified to provide advice for his or her specific type of business? Prior to starting the search, the mentee must identify his or her objectives.
One they are defined he can start the search. This may require interviewing several mentors in order to determine which mentor best suits his needs.
What issues concern the mentee?
- Financial matters – capital needs or financial procedures
- Operations/management, strategic planning, human resources
Once the matters of concern are defined, there are other considerations that will assist in selecting the right mentor.
Here are eight key factors in selecting the right mentor:
- Does the mentor/advisor have a background in your industry?
- This factor may or may not be relevant. It depends on the purpose of the mentorship.
- Is the mentor up to date with current practices in the industry?
- If the mentor is retired, he or she may not be aware of current policy and procedural changes in the industry.
- Is the mentor familiar with current marketing tools that would be appropriate for your business?
- Some industries require knowledge of cutting-edge marketing techniques. Dos the mentor have the needed skills?
- Is the mentor knowledgeable in areas that would be considered weaknesses? The weaknesses must be identified in order to determine if the mentor’s areas of expertise will be valuable.
- Does the mentor have a hidden agenda?
Since the mentor/mentee relationship often means entrepreneurs will reveal confidential information there must be a trust relationship between the parties.
In some cases, mentors have an undisclosed objective that may conflict with the objectives of the business owner. Due diligence is required prior to disclosing any confidential information.
Professionals who provide guidance to entrepreneurs may be classified as consultants, mentors, coaches, or advisors. Many of these professionals add their areas of expertise to their titles such as Financial Advisor, Software Specialist, or Sales and Marketing Consultant.
The titles may provide assistance in selecting the best mentor to further your professional goals. And, there are many persons capable of providing valuable counsel that do not hold any titles.
They are wise persons willing to share their knowledge and experience. Good luck.