By Steve Feld, Certified SCORE Mentor
As I was in the middle of my teenage years, I worked with a guy (who to me was around when dirt was invented) who met with me every week just to talk about life. He guided me, gave me advice, sometimes made me mad because he called me out on my glaring shortcomings. Or if I gave him a lame excuse on why I didn’t act on something that would be very positive in my life. He got me back on course if I did something stupid (hey, I was a teenager that was a given). Every week for 2 years he took the time out of his business to meet with me. At the time, I just liked the guy because he gave me good advice and guidance. Looking back in my 20’s I realized he was a great mentor, and now I really miss him (may he rest in peace). He was my first mentor and I didn’t know it then.
So, what is a mentor? According to Webster’s:
Mentor: Noun – A trusted counselor or guide.
Since that time, I've had several mentors over the years and learned a large amount of valuable lessons from each and every one of them. From not making certain business decisions to fostering certain partnerships, a great mentor can guide you through your professional and personal journey. Now, I volunteer for SCORE and am grateful for being allowed to mentor many entrepreneurs and share my knowledge to help new them like many people helped me become an entrepreneur.
Being a mentor, you MUST be committed in helping others become a fuller version of who they are. A mentor must be givers – NOT takers. Mentoring fosters not only professional growth but also personal growth. It can develop confidence for the mentee, improve their understanding by using different approaches to a situation and can enhance self-esteem for both the mentor and the mentee.
Look at some of the top executives, many of them got to where they are due to a mentor and many of them are mentoring the future stars of the business world.
What are some benefits of mentoring?
For the Mentee:
- Provides impartial advice and encouragement
- Develops a supportive relationship
- Assists with problem solving
- Improves self-confidence
- Offers professional development
- Encourages reflection on practice
- Becoming emotionally intelligent
For the Mentor:
- Opportunity to reflect on own practice and to take action
- Develops professional relationships
- Enhances peer recognition
- Uses your experience, making it available to a new person
- Enables you to practice interpersonal skills
- Provides personal satisfaction through supporting the development of others
- Presents challenges
- And great mentors don't sugarcoat their failings
As an entrepreneur, it's exciting to go it alone and create something on your own. However, the reality is that, while you have a great idea, you may not know exactly what you should be doing with your business and at which times to develop it into a sustainable business.
Here are 10 other reasons why you need someone like a mentor (from Inc. Magazine):
1. Mentors provide information and knowledge. As Benjamin Franklin said,
"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."
2. Mentors can see where we need to improve where we often cannot. Movie maker George Lucas noted,
"Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It's the only way we grow."
3. Mentors find ways to stimulate our personal and professional growth. Renowned director and producer, Steven Spielberg stated,
"The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves."
4. Mentors offer encouragement and help keep us going. Inspirational entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey announced,
"A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself."
5. Mentors are disciplinarians that create necessary boundaries that we cannot set for ourselves.
“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” — Bob Proctor
6. Mentors are sounding boards, so we can bounce ideas off them for an unfiltered opinion.
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” - Benjamin Disraeli
7. Mentors are trusted advisers.
“My mentor said, ‘Let’s go do it,’ not ‘You go do it.’ How powerful when someone says, ‘Let’s!’” - Jim Rohn
8. Mentors can be connectors.
“I’ve learned a lot from mentors who were instrumental in shaping me, and I want to share what I’ve learned.” - Herbie Hancock
9. Mentors have the experiences you can learn from to prevent making the same mistakes beginners make.
“A lot of people put pressure on themselves and think it will be way too hard for them to live out their dreams. Mentors are there to say, ‘Look, it’s not that tough. It’s not as hard as you think. Here are some guidelines and things I have gone through to get to where I am in my career.’” - Joe Jonas
10. Mentors are free, which makes them priceless in more ways than one. A mentor does not do it for the money. Instead, they are driven by the satisfaction of helping another entrepreneur, paying it forward from a similar experience they had when starting their own business.
Having a mentor is not a sign of weakness; it shows you are smart enough and are driven enough to succeed.
In 2018, challenge yourself to either be a mentor or find someone that you could mentor.
“A mentor is someone who is detached and can hold up a mirror to us.” - P.W. Keve
SCORE Mentors are available to meet with you for free! No matter what stage your business is in, you can benefit from the wisdom, experience and knowledge of someone who’s been there, done that.