Ever wondered what exactly business mentorship is? Interested to know if a business mentor can help you?
In this blog, we’re going to cover the why, what, where and how of business mentorship, by answering the 18 questions we most commonly receive at MentorConnex, so that in a few minutes’ time, you’re going to know:
#1: What is the definition of business mentorship?
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a mentor as “a person who gives a less experienced person advice and guidance over a period of time”.
At MentorConnex, we use an adaptation of this (we add the word “business”), as follows:
“A business mentor is an experienced businessperson who gives a less experienced businessperson advice and guidance over a period of time”.
#2. What can a business mentor help me with?
The right mentor can provide advice and guidance on almost any aspect of your business.
Typically, because of the nature of mentoring relationships, they focus more on strategic challenges (e.g. how do I create a marketing strategy) than tactical ones (e.g., how to create a Facebook ad campaign).
The following are some common reasons our members seek mentorship;
There are also more personal challenges a mentor can help you with.
In 2019, we ran a survey of 45 entrepreneurs and business owners to better understand their needs. One question related to their perceptions of the value of mentors. Participants were given a list to choose from and were able to pick as many options as they liked. Their responses are summarised as follows:
#3. What can't a business mentor help me with?
It is less about the knowledge or expertise you are looking to access, and more about the type of relationship you are seeking. Mentoring is driven by advice and guidance as and when you need it – someone to turn to when you otherwise wouldn’t know where to turn.
If you are looking to learn a new skill, you would be better with a business coach. If you are looking for someone to execute work for you, that’s more a consulting, contractor, or employee role.
Lastly, if you are looking for one off advice on a very specific part of your business (such as “how do I create a paid ads campaign), mentorship is not the best option.
#4. How long does a business mentorship relationship last?
A business mentorship relationship should only last as long as it gives you value, and you want it to continue. That is, it depends on you.
Of course, there are other circumstances when it may end, such as if the mentor’s situation changes and they are no longer available, but you are the primary driver.
#5. How often do I meet my business mentor?
It will be driven by you and your mentor, and we recommend discussing this with them at the outset of your mentorship.
However, we have found that a mentorship session once or twice a month is optimal, as a lot of ideas come out of a session that then need time to be put into action before the next one.
#6. How long do sessions last?
As with the frequency, the length of sessions is driven by you and your mentor, but most sessions tend to last between 30 and 60 minutes.
We find the most common patterns are:
However, there are exceptions. If, for example, you have a project that requires more intense advice, you may be speaking to your mentor for longer, and more frequently. Or, if you need just a quick chat on a hot topic, it could be a quick 15-minute call.
#7. How do I get the most from my business mentorship relationship(s)?
Firstly, it’s about connecting with the right mentor for you (later in this blog, we share 5 key points to help you do this), but assuming you have done that, here are 5 top tips to set yourself up for success:
#8. What if I want to end the relationship?
Because business mentoring arrangements are often open-ended, they can sometimes meander past their ‘use by’ date.
Sometimes things don’t work out. Other times, your mentoring relationship will draw to a natural conclusion, such as when you have achieved your goals and are moving on to new challenges.
But if you are ready to end your mentoring relationship, simply be honest. Say thank you everything and explain your reasons.
At MentorConnex, we will take care of this for you (should you prefer not to do it yourself) to help you avoid that awkward discussion. And we only welcome mentors into the community that understand that mentoring relationships do not need to last forever!
#9. Where do I meet my business mentor?
A beauty of modern technology is that need no longer travel to face-to-face meetings but can connect with your business mentor anywhere, anytime – from your home office, favourite café or an island in the Bahamas.
And with platforms like MentorConnex with inbuilt video call technology, the communication is also secure and confidential.
This has the added advantage of meaning you are not limited by geography, so you can focus purely on finding the right mentor, instead of seeing who is within your geographic reach.
Plus, you save valuable travel time that can be put to better use elsewhere. Especially if you really are on an island in the Bahamas!
#10. What is expected of me?
High-calibre business mentors have zero expectations in terms of your knowledge, your business or your achievements – they are there to help, and they’ve been in your shoes.
What they do expect is your commitment, as demonstrated by actions such as:
#11. What can you expect from your mentor?
Like your mentor, you are also a high-calibre businessperson whose time is valuable, so you have every right to expect a level of commitment from your mentor – especially in a commercial relationship, which we’ll cover in a minute.
At MentorConnex, every new mentor in the community must agree to a code of conduct that includes commitments to their mentees, such as:
#12. What’s the secret to a successful business mentorship session?
As a busy person, your time is of the essence, and it makes sense to maximise the return on investment of your time with your mentor. To get the most out of your sessions, we recommend;
#13. What separates a good mentor from a great one?
A great mentor for me might be a good mentor for you, and vice versa.
Any ‘good’ mentor should have relevant experience of the goals you are trying to achieve or challenges you are trying to overcome.
It really comes down to finding the right fit for you – that mentor that really gets you and can provide the knowledge, guidance and advice you need right now.
#14. Where do I find a business mentor?
Thankfully, the days of relying on family and friend referrals or networking events are over, because online mentor matching platforms like MentorConnex make it easy for anyone to access business mentorship, quickly and easily.
Look for a service that finds mentors for you, has a rigorous vetting process, and – if you find reaching our cold a bit awkward, or prefer not to have to search and select for yourself – will even do the matching for you.
#15. What is the difference between a business mentor and a business coach?
It’s important to understand how they compare and differ when you are considering who will be right for you. Here’s a quick summary that will help:
The fundamental difference to be aware of is that a business coach “teaches”, whereas a business mentor provides advice based on experience.
So, as a rule, connect with a coach if you are looking to learn something new, and connect with a mentor if you are looking for ongoing support.
To give a real-world example, imagine you want to learn the fundamentals of how to lead a team.
You might connect with a leadership coach to learn how it’s done, then with a mentor for ongoing support and someone to turn to when you hit challenges or need inspiration along the way.
It’s important to remember, that experts can fill both rolls and move between the two depending on what sort of relationship you are seeking. And, it’s not black and white – often the lines are blurred, and the most important thing is to get the right fit for you.
Read more about the differences between a business mentor and a business coach here.
#16. Should you pay a business mentor?
Yes and no.
If your business mentorship has come through a family or friends’ connection, it’s most likely not expected.
Equally, if it’s a two-way mentoring relationship where both parties are receiving equal value, it doesn’t make sense.
So when should you consider paying a mentor?
When you want access.
The quality of a business mentor’s advice should not change when it is paid or unpaid. However, by being prepared to pay, you are gaining access to:
#17. How do I know if business mentorship is right for me?
A 2014 study by the UPS Store found that 70% of small business owners with mentors survived past five years, double the rate of those who did not receive mentoring. Or, in other words, business mentorship doubles your chances of success. And having the right mentor will increase your chances even more.
But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.
If you are looking for a quick fix, if you struggle to receive feedback, don’t like taking advice, or aren’t ready to invest time and effort in yourself and your business, then business mentorship won’t be right for you.
Equally, if you are looking for someone to come in and do the work for you, someone to coach you, or help you solve short-term tactical issues, there are better options out there.
But if you are looking for someone to turn to when you get stuck, someone who has been in your shoes and understands what you are going through, who can help you avoid pitfalls, quit procrastinating, make better decisions faster, be a sounding board, open your eyes to new possibilities and ideas and overall, just take some of that overwhelming mental load off you, then a business mentor could be exactly what you need to take your business to the next level and beyond.
So what's next?
In this post, we have covered the 18 questions we most commonly receive about business mentorship.
I hope that through doing so, we have given you clarity over;
If you still have questions about business mentorship and whether it is right for you or if you are interested to find out how we can make meeting your ideal mentor easier than ever, then book a time to chat with us here, and we’ll answer any questions you have.