I am a firm believer that every small business owner needs a mentor. Even the best business owners have questions and need support at some point. Let's take a look at professional athletes for a second to get a different perspective.
Have you ever noticed how many coaches and mentors professional athletes have? The best athletes in the world, the ones at the top of their game have a plethora of coaches. A typical professional athlete has an entire coaching staff to rely on. Additionally many of them have an individual trainer or coach. They have someone to rely on when they go into a slump and someone to give them a different perspective. A good coach will pass on their years of knowledge that they have learned from their own career and experience in coaching. So if the best athletes in the world need a coach or group of coaches, why don't you as a small business owner?
What can a good coach do for your small business?
A Different Perspective
Even the best hitters in major league baseball go into a slump at some point. When they do many of them solve their slump by studying their swing with their team of coaches. They review film of them swinging in the past games to identify the problems. Sometimes getting out of a slump only requires review, a different perspective, and practice.
The same thing applies to your small business. Some of the problems you face only require a different perspective to solve. When you go into a sales slump or face customer service problems it is easy to get down on yourself. Getting a different perspective can help you solve your issues. That perspective could come from a business coach, a mentor in your network, a co-worker, or even a friend.
An Accountability Partner
Many people training for a marathon or triathlon will seek a partner to help them train. In the business world we might refer to this as an accountability partner. When training for a marathon I imagine there are mornings where you don't want to get out of bed. You look at your training schedule and see that you need to run 15 miles, it begins to get tough when you're unmotivated or have had a rough go at it. An accountability partner can keep you motivated and on track during tough times.
A Place to go in Tough Times
Every business owner goes through some tough times. Running a small business is like riding a crazy roller coaster; there are massive highs and deep, deep lows. Highs can come in the form of an insane sales run, a new product offering that everyone loves, and funding from an investor. On the contrary lows include cash flow problems, employee issues, and customer service problems.
I know that there have been many times in my career where I have had to reach out to my mentors to seek advice to get through a tough time. The tough times are really bad because all you want to do is quit. That is the easy way out, but great entrepreneurs summon the courage to face the problem head on and come up with a solution. Tough times can kill small businesses and mentors play a large role in helping you get through them.
Keeping you on Track
It's easy to get off track as a small business owner and a mentor can help keep you focused on what is actually important in your business. I have coached small business owners and left them in a positive state focused on productive tasks. Some stay focused and on track and others get way off course. Sometimes all it takes is a good coach to slap you on your hand and say, "Stop doing that!"
When you find yourself doing unproductive tasks or you feel unfocused reach out to a mentor in your network to figure out what is going on. Like I said earlier, a different perspective on a situation can go a long way.
Much like the best athletes in the world even the best businessmen need a good coach or mentor.
Do you advise with a business mentor? What value do they add?