Mike Michalowicz shares how the right mentorship can offer clarity when making business decisions.
When I started my first company, I was on my own, I didn’t have a mentor. I relied on a business partner, who also didn’t have experience. Later, with a few years under my belt, I met someone who was in my space and they became my first mentor. That’s when I learned the value of mentorship: it’s a relationship in which the mentor shares shortcuts based on their experiences in growing their own business. Here are three big ways having that insight can help you.
- Total objectivity. A mentor is an outside resource someone who is not emotionally attached to your business and has the experience you don’t have. That doesn’t mean your mentor should be older than you. It doesn’t necessarily need to be someone in your industry. It needs to be someone who can offer an insight you can use. Your mentor should broaden your knowledge of and exposure to whatever challenges you’re facing from a different angle. Different perspectives give you the best view of your options and help you make better decisions.
- Avoid common landmines. Having a mentor also means you can circumnavigate some of the bumps and bruises many new entrepreneurs make. It doesn’t matter what type of business you have – from a pizza shop to professional services. When you first start a business, there will always be big decisions to make and consequences for each. Having a mentor is like having the answers to a test you need to take because your friend has already taken. You can see what their score was based on the answers they chose, and decide to either keep their answers or make another selection. Either way, you’ve got an advantage.
- Discover new business. As you work with your mentor and learn more about how to do business, you may start to find new business ventures and new ways to apply what you’ve learned in other profitable ways. I’ve found this to be true after working with mentors who have sold businesses. Different levels of experience will yield different results, but you may find some strategies can be successfully templatized and applied across several business models.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer a few warning words of wisdom, a natural habit now that I’m a mentor. Having a mentor is great, but only if they are truly fulfilling the mentorship role. Trust your gut. A proper mentor relationship is one where the mentor is offering advice and suggestions to your business. If they’re looking to be paid for their advice or are looking to invest in your business, they are stepping outside of the mentor role. Be clear in your purpose when seeking a mentor and make sure your mentor’s intentions align with yours.