Guest Post: Why Should I Have A Mentor? 7 Ways Working With A Mentor Will Benefit Your Business
This blog post has been created by my awesome illustrator
friend, Camille Medina...details to follow her at the end.
Thanks so much, Camille, for popping over to my blog!
Have you heard about mentoring and you’re wondering if it’s really worth it, or what difference it would make for you and your business? If you have, you’re in the right place!
I’m going to share with you 7 ways working with a mentor can benefit your business but first, let me tell you how I fell into the mentoring world.
I got into mentoring way before I even knew what mentoring was. You see, I’ve always liked helping people reflect and find ways to achieve their goals, just like I’ve always liked ‘studying’ the people who are where I want to be and reverse-engineering how they got there.
After a while, the ‘helping people side of things’ became more personal. Not only did I want to help others find ways to achieve their goals, but I started to feel that I wanted to share my past mistakes to save others the pain, and to give what I didn’t have when I started my own business, namely: a space for real, open conversations, where people could ask questions without having to worry about things like “I’ve never talked to her before, is it too early to ask?” or “Will I bother her / Will she think I’m stupid if I ask this question?”. Being able to get direct answers saves time,it reduces self-doubt, and removes confusion and overwhelm. And as a result it increases confidence and promotes taking action.
When I realised that what I’d been doing for so long without knowing it was called mentoring I decided to make myself available as an ‘official’ mentor and opened a few spots for private sessions on my website. That was two years ago.
Before we go any further, allow me to make an important distinction: mentoring and coaching often get confused and I want to make sure that you’re clear on the difference between them.
Mentoring is a mutual relationship where both parties - i.e. the mentor and the mentee - share their experience. The mentor helps the mentee see the big picture and become aware of opportunities that the mentee might not have seen on their own. As part of the process, the mentor also helps the mentee to identify themes and patterns in their past behaviour, and potentially limiting or unproductive beliefs.
Coaching, on the other hand, is a training relationship (so not as peer-based) that does include, at times, aspects of mentoring. A coach will usually share less personal experiences. Their role is also to help their client solve specific problems and often the client will get specific tasks and homework to do between sessions. By contrast, the mentee might have some things to action but they are fully responsible for their learning, goal-setting and results.
It’s also worth noting that although personal experiences are shared during mentoring, it is NOT therapy or counselling, and it is NOT performance management.
Now that we’re clear on the difference between coaching and mentoring, let’s take a look at how having a mentor can benefit your business.
- Having a mentor enables you to benefit from the experience of someone who's slightly further down the road from you. And by learning from someone who’s even a little bit more experienced than you, you can make more progress, faster. It’s like getting access to the motorway when before you were driving on country roads.
- Having a mentor provides you with the support that you might not be able to get from your family or friends. I wish I could say that everyone around you is going to be supportive of your professional path and lifestyle choices, but unfortunately that’s not how the world works and sometimes the people around us just don’t get it and think we’re crazy. If that’s you, wouldn’t it feel great to not feel like the odd one, and have someone who’s on your side and who understands what it’s like to run a small business?
- Having a mentor gives you a safe, non-judgmental space to discuss ideas, goals and challenges. You’ll be able to get a second opinion, and to ask questions like “what suppliers do you use for x?” and “Have you tried y and how did it work for you?”. Discussing and reflecting is always good but doing it with someone neutral leads to better decision making for you and your business.
- Having a mentor helps you gain clarity. Sometimes we’re so ‘inside’ our business and our heads that we can’t see the next best step anymore or we struggle to decide what to prioritise. A mentor can help you to take a step back and see the big picture again, clarify your intentions, and ensure that the decisions you’re making make sense for you and your business (and that you’re not doing something just because someone else is doing it).
- Having a mentor helps you stay in the right mindset and navigate the storms. A lot of indie biz owners fly solo and as you know, doing business can be hard at times (if it was easy everyone would be doing it!). It means that our worst enemy - aka ourselves - is always lurking, waiting for the right moment to strike with unhealthy doses of self-doubt, imposter syndrome and procrastination. Working with a mentor is like having a personal cheerleader. They understand what it’s like and they'll have some wisdom to impart or some words of encouragement ready for when you need them. They’ll help you to kick that unhelpful self-talk in the butt and to bounce back quickly.
- Having a mentor gives you accountability and can motivate you to take action. Let’s be honest: sometimes we just don’t do what we’re supposed to do because it’s boring, because it’s scary, because we’re not sure where to start, etc. When we work with somebody else we’re more likely to push ourselves and to take action because we don’t want to look bad the next time they ask “so, did you do that thing?”. Who doesn’t need a bit of extra motivation every now and then?
- Having a mentor gives you a sense of connection. Similar to the idea of support mentioned above, feeling that we belong and that we’re not alone does a lot for our psyche and general mental health. Working with a mentor can help you feel that you’re part of a bigger movement, that you’re part of a community or part of an industry perhaps. This, in turn, can make you feel more positive and more motivated, which has a direct effect on your progress and your productivity. As the saying goes “we are stronger together”.
As you can see, there’s lots of advantages to be gained from working with a mentor.