Getting the most from a mentor
Craig Garner walks you through the process of applying for, and working with, a mentor from Business Mentors New Zealand. The hardest part about getting a mentor via the Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) service is making that initial decision you need support. One of the biggest mistakes anyone trying to establish or grow a […]
Craig Garner walks you through the process of applying for, and working with, a mentor from Business Mentors New Zealand.
The hardest part about getting a mentor via the Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) service is making that initial decision you need support. One of the biggest mistakes anyone trying to establish or grow a business can make is thinking they have all the skills and knowledge required.
Mentors are experienced business people and differ from business consultants or coaches.
While a consultant is very task-oriented (i.e. “Give me a social media marketing strategy.”), a mentor might ask “Why do you want a social media marketing strategy? Let’s discuss your financial position and talk about cashflow.”
This is, of course, an oversimplification. The reality is that every single person who applies to our mentoring service is different and has different needs in this ever-evolving business environment. What you get from working with a mentor is up to you. The majority of feedback we receive is not “you helped my business” but “my mentor changed my life” – powerful stuff.
Some of the critical stages in the mentoring process include:
1. Deciding to apply for a business mentor.
2. Making an application to the BMNZ service.
3. Deciding how much time you and the mentor invest in the relationship.
1. Deciding to apply for a business mentor
Every person who owns a business needs someone to bounce ideas off or challenge their thinking. BMNZ research confirms one of the most significant challenges faced by a business owner, whether at the formative stages or in growth, is isolation. It is human nature to spend time and energy on the things that motivate us, so other parts of the business may suffer.
This may be financial management, marketing, customer engagement, product development or any one of the tasks required to ensure a business is sustainable.
For some, asking an outsider for help feels like failure or weakness. We turn to our friends and family for advice, but often they are too emotionally or financially invested to give honest and impartial advice. As a business owner seeking a mentor you don’t have to have all the answers, that’s the very point of getting a mentor. Deciding to get help is a positive and progressive step toward being a successful business person.
2. Making a BMNZ application
Our not-for-profit service has 14 agencies nationally who follow a best practice mentoring model. Mentors are vetted and selected based on their skills, and importantly their motivation to help others succeed.
It is essential to understand that mentors gift their time.
To apply for a mentor simply fill out a small application form at www.businessmentors.org.nz – giving the mentor coordinator in your region some insights into your business model (i.e. formation, existing SME or social enterprise).
Once the application is completed the coordinator will be in touch to gain a better idea of what mentor would best suit you.
Given we are investing in human relationships, there can be no one-size-fits-all solution. Skills and personalities of the applicant (the mentee) and the mentor are taken into consideration by the coordinator when making the match.
Our primal tendency is to seek people like us and being matched with a conflicting personality may initially seem challenging. It is the differing perspectives that often create the most rewarding engagements. Should the match be genuinely unsuitable, then a rematch can, and should be, undertaken.
3. Investing in the relationship
The registration fee of $295+GST gives you up to 12-months access to the mentor’s support.
It is important at the beginning of the engagement to determine what you are dealing with and set some goals. When you feel you have reached the agreed outcomes, the match can be closed and you can reapply for a new mentor with the next task and goals ahead.
Initially you may meet twice a month for about an hour. After a few months it is usual that this may become a monthly catch-up, and then towards the end of the relationship occasional phone calls can discuss progress and achievements.
As a new mentee have an open mind, and be prepared to be challenged. As the relationship progresses, mutual respect and trust should occur. The old saying – ‘you get what you give’ – will apply. Advancements in your own ability to improve your business requires constant effort and application. Frequency of meetings should be mutually agreed in the formative stages of your mentoring relationship; be proactive and stick to the agreed schedule.
The engagements between a mentor and mentee are not one-sided. The mentor will learn and gain new insights from your experiences and challenges and you will both grow from the transfer of knowledge.
The calibre and quality of our mentors are outstanding. Those who engage with them leap hurdles that may have previously been emotional or financial barriers to growth.
By making you more successful, we, in turn, contribute toward a more productive business that is good for the owner, our communities and the economy.