Sometimes this question can be best answered by reflecting on what business mentoring is not:
Mentoring is not a chat with a wise friend/colleague
Mentoring is not sharing best practise information between peers
Mentoring is not an opportunity for the mentor to give advice or lecture in a vacuum*
Though some of the things above are hugely valuable (*not this one) a business mentor offers something that it’s hard to get from friends, colleagues or peers. A good business mentor creates a confidential, support space for the business owner to reflect & analyse every part of their business. Mentors ask great insightful questions and don’t make assumptions or allow your assumptions to float by. Good mentors are supportive, compassionate and challenging too. They have learnt how to use their listening and analysis skills to check and balance your business and they have techniques to help you set goals, test your ideals and define your target market.
The best business mentors have also been there and done it, so they can also combine their mentoring techniques with practical knowledge, help support and put you in touch with new contacts & clients. And good business mentors help get you results: whether that be more profit or more work life balance, mentoring is not a vague process: a good mentor will ensure results are measurable & visible.
Mentoring gives you space and time to develop your business, your way. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of the bigger picture. Mentoring will help you prioritise seemingly equal tasks to ensure progress is driven by the things that matter most – profit and personal satisfaction.
Taking time each month to see a mentor builds good habits into your business – habits proven to promote growth. A 2011 report by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills shows greater rates of expected and actual growth in SMEs who used a business mentor than those who didn’t. Further benefits highlighted by the report include increased business confidence, aspiration and professional development, all of which impact positively on business performance.