As a small business owner, you grapple with large and small decisions every day, as well as long-term strategic decisions that may keep you up at night. You probably struggle with hardships that are common to all small businesses: how to find funding, increase sales, and manage your staff efficiently. And since small businesses have a high employee turnover rate (greener pastures always beckon,) lack of manpower or infrastructure can result in unhappy customers or unhappiness among loyal employees. Without a clear roadmap, you may not know which way to go; in short there no shortage of issues to give you nightmares. You take the challenges head on because you accepted them long before you started your venture. Your need for independence is stronger than ever and your self-confidence grows as you guide the business forward, but you may fail to notice that the strain of taking every decision independently–though a great asset–may at times make you stumble.
This is when a mentor comes into the scene. It has been observed that mentorship is among the most underutilized resources of growth for a small or medium business. It has also been observed that 70 per cent businesses that have appointed a mentor have survived in the industry for five years and beyond. This number is double the rate of survival for non-mentored organizations over the same time period. Having someone to turn to who has the wisdom of experience proves to be invaluable not for just newbies, but even for seasoned businessmen.
Making the right contacts, knowing the right people and moving in the right social network is a big step in the right direction for any business. A good mentor is a person who helps you connect with best partners, investors, clients or service providers. Their practical knowledge and resourceful ensures they make you meet all the right people that you can mutually benefit from.
The next probable struggle where a mentor can help you is planning. You may have created a business model working hard over a long period of time. But is there a possibility that you lost focus a bit as you got involved more and more into the intricate details? Are you sure you have not become overly attached to your system or plan? A mentor’s sharp & practical mind is quick to detect the flaws in your system and proceed further to work on those flaws with you.
When a mentor looks into your business model, however efficient it might be, you get the benefit of a different perspective. He can bring into your notice a number of factors, like a process that you have been following has become outdated or show you an alternative that you never knew existed. Keeping an open mind while working with a mentor, working on his feedback can help a business tap a lot of its untapped potential. As well as make the wrong things right.
After much deliberation, you choose a mentor, he walks into your office one day and changes a few things or points out a few important loopholes. And he does it so effortlessly that it is probable one of the following two things happen, you expect he will do the work for you. Or on the negative, you get anxious, that with his expertise and quick ways, will he take over the control of your business? To answer the later, you have legal options to choose from, to protect your trade secrets or inventions from anybody. And to answer the prior, he will not run your business for you either. He is here to point you towards the right direction and steer you off wrong paths. That is what you are entitled to expect of him.
Whether your mentor is a business friend, or someone you found through a “mentor matchmaker,” you will likely find yourself trusting him or her, as well as relying on their knowing advice. And that is smart on your part, your mentor has more business experience, has dealt with the personal and financial pressures that come with business, and can understand the stresses you are experiencing. Even if you only meet for coffee or a quick lunch, you will likely gain from every conversation. Whether discussing company policy, office “dress codes,” or even what to write on an employee’s birthday card, your mentor will have stories to share and background from which you can learn. But there is also one caveat to remember: a business mentor is no more infallible than you are! Just as you sought a mentor for ideas and advice, your tutor probably sought advice more than once in his or her career. And can also make mistakes. Ultimately, you must assess your situation, take the advice you receive, and make your own business decisions. It’s good to have wise advice, but you will be the one held responsible for the future of your business.
SMB Connect is India’s largest integrated solution platform which links small and medium sized enterprises and entrepreneurs across the nation. Our mission is to build supportive communities by using effective solutions to connect with customers, providing advisory solutions, leveraging training programs and sharing the experiences of other businesses, so that SMBs can overcome all odds and succeed. Because we believe, Small Can Be Big!
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