The benefits of having a mentor

Like many people in the same boat, at the time we started our business, we had no idea what the future would hold.

Our business started as four friends becoming business partners.

Having never been in a position of having to make decisions together, it took us a while to learn how to do it. From the outset we set monthly meetings for operational discussions, and quarterly meetings for strategic ones. We believe this constant discussion around the different elements of our business has been the cornerstone to its success to date.  However, it’s fair to say that it slowed our growth in the first 3 years.

When we started the business we didn’t know where our respective strengths and weaknesses lay as business owners. Meetings would inevitably see discussion points going around and around in circles when it came to making business decisions.

We realised that management by committee for all decisions was hampering business and holding us back, so we made the decision to get help.

That help came in the form of an experienced, considered and successful business person. It didn’t matter that they had no equipment finance or broking experience – in fact we actively sought that out in a mentor – as we knew we needed a fresh set of eyes to help us define and create our own identity.

What we needed was someone to give our business structure, teach us to make decisions effectively and most importantly, to believe in ourselves and the direction we all knew we wanted to take.

Whilst we can’t sit here and say we don’t continue to make mistakes – we do – the difference is we don’t get caught up in the fear of making a decision and getting it wrong. In fact we now know that we can learn as many valuable lessons from our mistakes as our successes. Having an experienced mentor has given us the ability and the confidence.

Our mentor’s role continues to evolve with us. We don’t need him as much now days for the day to day running of the business. However, his value in helping us with our strategic direction whilst maintaining our culture and values is more important than ever.

Our advice to anyone thinking of setting up a small business, or those looking to change direction with their current one, would be to enlist the help of someone you trust who has been successful in running businesses in their own right. They may or may not have your industry experience, but we believe you know the industry, so you need someone who knows business and can help with your deficiencies.

There are many places you can find mentors such as family, ex bosses and the internet, but until you recognize the benefits in having one you will not reap the rewards. It demands honesty with yourself, between your partners and of course, with your mentor. And while that can be quite confronting, it can also be the golden egg that sets your business apart.

We would love to hear if others have had similar experiences with mentors and how its helped them. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line!