Why you need a mentor, and how to get one
Monday, October 1, 2018/
For SME owners, a business mentor can bring perspective, experience and connections that would otherwise be out of reach – all things that are invaluable in propelling your small business forward.
However, research conducted by SmartCompany found that more than 50 per cent of small business owners believed having a mentor would be beneficial to their career, yet less than 20 per cent received some form of mentorship.
For those unsure of how a mentor-mentee relationship could be beneficial to your business and your career, SmartCompany spoke with two small business owners to find out how their experiences with their mentors helped them succeed in business.
Stoking up business dreams
In 2017, Stoke n Smoke BBQ owner Chad Griffin had the opportunity to meet his barbeque business idol after winning RedZed Lending Solutions’ Meet the Master competition.
Having just started up his barbeque catering business, Griffin was flown to Richmond, Virginia in the United States to meet barbeque legend, Tuffy Stone – and grill him with some in-depth questions.
Stone, also known as “The Professor” on the American barbeque circuit, quickly became a master of barbeque after taking out a number of barbeque championships on his quest to learn everything he could about the topic.
“He’s a bit of an idol and he’s done a few videos and interviews but nothing really in depth,” says Griffin, who was hoping to get to pick Stone’s brain
“I thought, ‘Jeez, I could learn a thing or two from this guy.’ I wanted to get a little bit more out of him.”
The number one thing Griffin learnt from his mentor was to be prepared. “Whether it’s a competition or your business, you need to have back-ups, you need lists, you need to be over-prepared.”
After watching friends’ businesses fail and realising it’s “not easy to kick off a business,” Griffin says he’s extremely glad he had the opportunity to be mentored by a barbeque and business legend.
“We did need to step back from business and prepare more, and get some good credit behind us.”
Brewing up business with the right combination of mentors
Founder of specialty online tea store Allegra & Grace, Julia Torkos says two business mentors were critical in helping her launch her business in June 2018.
The first helped her establish a clear business model and get clear on her target market. “I spent eight months being coached by her and she was truly amazing in helping me see my strengths and working with them,” says Torkos.
The second helped Torkos form the action plan that got her to the point of launching Allegra & Grace.
After this positive experience with mentoring, Torkos says she’s now ready for a third mentor. She’d love to meet Catherine Langman, a business coach for e-commerce productpreneuers.
“As valuable as my mentors were, I’m missing someone that is an expert in the e-commerce world. Catherine has an abundance of real-life experience and success and some valuable tools that I feel I need to learn.”
Torkos says the opportunity to be mentored by someone who truly gets the challenges she faces in growing her business would be game-changing.
“It would help me create a community in which Australians can connect over a shared cup of tea – the ritual of brewing a cuppa, the amazing health benefits and the calm it evokes.”
How can you get the most out of your mentor?
- Don’t be scared to ask questions.
- Be honest and clear about the kind of relationship you’re looking for.
- Ask for honest feedback.
- Be clear on what you want to achieve in your business from the mentoring relationship and communicate these things to your mentor.
So, once you realise what mentoring could do for your business, it’s time to start thinking about the next question: Who is the ultimate mentor for you and your business?