How to make the most of a business mentor

- October 13, 2008 2 MIN READ

What could be more fun, and potentially profitable, than bouncing your business dreams around with someone who can help turn them into reality? I recently enlisted the help of a business mentor and am already meeting goals previously laden with

My business mentor has a penchant for marketing and is reminiscent of a female Gandalf, but without the beard.

Here are some tips on finding your own business Gandalf and how to make the most of their sage wisdom.

1. What kind of business mentor do you need?

Jot down some ideas about where you are now, where you want to be and what the missing links might be. From this process, it may become clear that having a mentor from your own industry might not be the most useful step. You may be better off seeking out someone with a financial planning bent or a great networker. Or just a person in business at the level you want to be.

2. What’s your commitment?

It also helps to have a gauge on the amount of time and money you want to devote to being mentored. Not just for the first couple of meetings – we’re talking six months, maybe more. Really sink those incisors into it. If you don’t commit, it won’t work.

3. How do you find business mentors?

Find the Gandalf for you through: 

  • State Government business mentor programs, do a Google and see what you can find in your state.
  • Business networking organisations.
  • An appropriate industry association.
  • Asking friends, relatives and colleagues.

Want more articles like this? Check out the professional development section.

4. Be clear about expectations

Once you identified potential business mentor candidates, discuss openly expectations at the start.

  • Will financial costs be incurred? If yes, how much?
  • How much time can either of you afford to commit? 
  • What sort of advice and guidance do you need? 
  • Who’s buying the chocolate mud cake?

5. Be clear about privacy

Chances are you will be discussing confidential aspects to your business. So before kicking off, consider signing a confidentiality agreement with your new business mentor. This document can help clarify what needs to stay private before anything commercially sensitive is shared. In short, you will both be on the same page.

6. Making arrangements

Organise in advance a regular time a place that will be convenient for both of you and conducive for focused discussion. Also discuss the best way to make contact with one other, i.e. mobile or email. Decide how often contact can be made between mentor meetings, if at all.

7. Set small, time-sensitive goals

Before wrapping up a meeting with your business mentor, be clear on what you want to achieve before you meet again. This generates motivation and keeps your business development on track.

Not sure if you need a mentor?

You might be interested to know that many of the world’s most successful people have benefited from one: 

  • Freddie Laker mentored Richard Branson
  • Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great 
  • Martin Scorsese mentored Oliver Stone 
  • Johann Christian Bach mentored Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Bobby Charlton mentored David Beckham

And, of course, Gandalf mentored Frodo. But that was some time ago.

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"