5 Questions To Ask Business Mentoring Programs
How to find the right business mentor to achieve your business goals in double quick time
Whether you’re a solopreneur just starting out in business, a small company looking to grow, or a large conglomerate with thousands of employees, there’s one thing you have in common with each other: you all want to make the maximum amount of profit for a minimum of effort and expenditure. That’s why business mentoring programs are so crucial to any business. They can help you focus on what’s really important so you can smash your business goals as quickly as possible.
So why should you invest in a business mentor?
- They have expert information and knowledge. No matter how experienced you are, there’s always more to learn, new innovations to take advantage of. A mentor will give you a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips to shorten the learning curve and teach you shortcuts to reach your targets.
- They offer impartial, constructive criticism. Sometimes, we’re just too close to a problem to see how to solve it. A mentor will guide you to understand your strengths and weaknesses, so you can transform any negatives into positives.
- They are invested in your professional and personal growth. A mentor will keep you on track, provide you with accountability, and give you feedback to hone and improve your processes and practices, which will see you develop, not just professionally, but personally too.
- They provide unbiased feedback. Maybe you have an idea for a new business or you want to expand into a new field. Perhaps you just want to transform the way you do business. Having ideas is great, but how do you know which ones are worth pursuing and which ones will waste your time? A mentor can provide you with objective advice, helping you to weed out the concepts that are worth nurturing so you don’t waste time and resources.
- They can help you work smarter, not harder. Sometimes, less is more. A mentor will show you how you can streamline your processes and share their insider knowledge so you get the maximum bang for your buck on everything you do.
Given how much value a business mentor can bring, you’re probably wondering why you didn’t find one sooner and how you can go about working with a mentor. In this blog post, we detail the things you need to consider when looking for the perfect mentor for your business.
- Do you have experience in my industry?
Sure, some business principles work, regardless of whether you’re in law, medicine, sales, whatever. And while it’s certainly true that your customers look to you to solve their problems, a sick patient who looks to you to heal them has very different needs to someone who wants the cheapest printer toner for their office.
However, even when you confine your search to mentors who are active within your industry, you’ll soon find that not all business mentoring programs are created equal. The whole point of working with a mentor is that you’re able to stand on the shoulders of giants. They need to have been there and done that, experienced failure as well as victory, so that they can help you avoid the pitfalls on your way to success.
Just because someone has exploded onto the scene with fast growth behind them doesn’t mean that they can translate that into long term results. Your business mentor needs to have significant experience in your field so that you can have the confidence to trust that they can guide you in the right direction, and teach you not to repeat their mistakes.
- Do you share my values?
While it’s important that your chosen business mentor has the right resume, if you don’t ‘click,’ then they won’t be able to support you effectively. The mentor/mentee relationship can be incredibly intimate. If you want to get the most out of business mentoring programs, you’ll need to feel comfortable opening up to your mentor about your thought processes and innermost fears.
For example, Be Your Customers™ customize our mentoring according to our proprietary BYC Needs Assessment. This in-depth process examines your customers, both existing and potential, your industry, and your corporate culture and values framework. We then take the time to carry out planning consultations as need to establish your precise needs in detail. This means that you receive business mentoring programs tailored to your unique individual circumstances – and you know that you will be able to connect with your mentor for maximum effect.
If the business mentoring programs you’re considering don’t offer this service, make sure at least schedule one or two conversations so that you can interview each other. After all, your mentor should be equally invested in your success. They should care about whether they can work with you just as much as the other way round. While a few discussions won’t mean that you become instant best friends, you should be able to get a sense of whether you can communicate effectively and understand each other.
Pay attention to their language. Do they talk in a positive way or do they express doubts and negativity? Are they supportive or patronising? Do they have realistic expectations or are they promising you the world just to get your business? Do they listen to you or are they talking over you, already formulating what they’re going to say before you’ve finished your question?
A mentor who shares your values will be worth their weight in gold.
- Can I trust you?
Okay, so this isn’t a question you might want to ask out loud. Of course, someone will tell you that you can trust them. But if you’re serious about wanting to grow and improve your performance, you’re going to have to be honest, not just with yourself, but with your mentor as well.
If you haven’t worked with a mentor before, you might think that it’s all about them telling you what to do. In fact, the relationship goes much deeper than that, and you get out of it what you put in. Successful business mentoring programs work not because the mentor knows what they’re doing, but because you’re willing to open up and dig deep to uncover what’s holding you back.
Your mentor isn’t there to judge. They’re not going to criticize or tell you what a terrible person you are. But they can only work with the material you give them. If you only tell them about how great you are or how you only have minor problems to solve, there’s not a lot they can do to help.
You need to open up. You need to discuss all your issues with your mentor, yes, even the ones you’ve never told anyone before. It’s only with honesty that you’ll see results and you can only be honest if you trust your mentor.
Listen to your gut. If you don’t feel that you can connect with a potential mentor, find someone else.
- Are you versatile and flexible?
Effective mentors need to wear multiple hats. They need to be:
- An investigator (to uncover the things you didn’t even know you didn’t know)
- A trainer and coach (to help you appreciate your successes and learn from your mistakes)
- A consultant (to advise you on the best way forward)
- Co-processor (to analyze your progress and plan the next step)
- Change agent (to support you as you adapt to a new, improved way of doing things)
- Partner (to be as invested in your success as you are)
In addition, as well as being an expert in their particular field, a good mentor needs to be an expert in the different learning styles of adults, how they retain knowledge, how their personality will impact on different strategies, and countless other nuances that all play into getting you to where you want to be.
What’s more, while business mentoring programs need to have a structure to them, a stated purpose and a proven path to get you there, flexibility is also crucial. They need to be able to match up to the values, culture, systems, performance metrics, pipeline strategy, talent management, etc. in your organization.
Every company is different and faces its own unique challenges. If a mentor only offers a one size fits all approach, unless you happen to be exactly the right fit for their mentorship program, you’re wasting your time.
- What’s the Return on Investment (ROI) of working with you?
The whole point of signing up to business mentoring programs is that the money invested in a mentor will pay itself back many times over. A mentor who can’t tell you about the success of their other clients may not have your best interests at heart.
Be Your Customers™ consistently provide an ROI of over 100% to our clients. We measure all of our programs to ensure that our clients really do get the value and support they deserve. If our clients don’t succeed, we’re the ones who’ve failed.
Be Your Customers™ provides industry specific business mentoring programs designed to support you in achieving your business goals. We’d love to hear from you about your experiences with business mentors and how they helped your business or career. Tell us your story in the comments below!