Business advisors and mentors bring additional levels of business experience to the table, some have trained as mentors, some specialise in particular industry sectors and some have clearly defined skills and areas of expertise. As a business owner it is essential to engage with and develop a relationship with someone who either has direct experience of your business or can bring key complimentary skills that you don’t currently have yourself or close at hand. It is also essential to engage with someone who you can get on with and trust to give you the right advice and support.
Most business owners are strong minded and strong willed and additionally have a very sound knowledge of their business sector. In many cases they will have enjoyed a progressive and successful career path before deciding to build their own business either on their own or perhaps with previous colleagues. They will have considered the future carefully before making the move away from the security of an employed career and will have evaluated every single option and scenario in advance. As we know, over time many things can change in business and some of these changes can come about through external rather than internal influences. These could be economic and economy driven reasons or through political changes and uncertainties as we have seen recently with Brexit, for example. Sometimes, smaller businesses have been through expansion that leaves them light on internal management structures and decision makers and the owner needs to work closely with someone external to offer support and input either on a short or longer term basis. In some cases, the input required needs to be very specific and in others it needs to be very general and supportive. The latter whilst being supportive, often also needs to question current methodology and processes and either support these or be able to bring more viable alternatives into the equation.
The role of a more general business advisor and mentor therefore can be very different indeed to that of a pure specialist. They need to be an experienced business person with a track record of success alongside a broad range of skills. The key skills embrace general people skills, common sense, patience and the ability to research and evaluate every aspect of a business. It is essential to be supportive but balanced with the ability to seriously question current business methods and help to find more relevant alternatives without being arrogant or dictatorial.
Whilst running my business for over 30 years, I worked with two main mentors and advisors and they proved to be essential at critical times in my business and helped me ultimately as I moved into supporting my own clients latterly. Some of the clients that I have worked with and supported over the years have developed, through their own abilities, into highly successful business leaders and we are still in contact today.
It is important for any business owner looking to take on a business mentor/ business advisor who they feel can offer both short and long term genuine value to what they and their business is looking to achieve. The person that you choose must be able to reassure you that their input will help you to continually achieve both your business and life style goals. The success will ultimately be down to the business owner and not the mentor/business advisor and so the relationship balance between the two is obviously critical to get right.