What's the difference between a coach and a mentor?
I'm often asked this question and one of the best explanations I've seen recently is this article was written by Mark Boyd, Marketing Manager at School For Startups http://www.s4s.com
Want to be a successful entrepreneur?
Try to be born into a wealthy family that starts and owns successful businesses. That almost always seems to work well. Growing a company from the ground up requires a broad set of skills, and there’s nothing like discussing corporate mergers and intellectual property rights over the dinner table to prepare you to launch a successful enterprise as soon as you leave school. At least that seemed to work well for Bill Gates.
But, for most of us, it is too late to choose a Mother and Father. That means you’ll have to find a good Mentor instead. Nothing shortens the road to personal and financial success for an entrepreneur more than some early hand holding by someone who has built a business from the ground up. Why?
Because you can’t teach what you don’t know . . .
An effective mentor should have the following properties:
- They have owned and operated a successful business, and they have demonstrated that they have the skills you need to master in order to succeed.
- They have some experience in running businesses similar to the one you want to run. It doesn’t need to be an enterprise in the same industry, but if you are planning to sell products it helps if your mentor has some insight into product design and product sales. If you are selling services, it is handy if they can help you come up with manpower management solutions.
- They’ve dealt with their fair share of disasters and disappointments. More than half of the skills required to build a successful business are related to dealing with the unknown and turning unpleasant surprises into unexpected opportunities. Furthermore, most very successful business professionals have had to start multiple enterprises in order to reach their current positions.
- They need to understand the true evolution of a business. A business starts with a simple idea which becomes a business model. They’ll understand the dangers inherent to each stage of a business, and be able give you some guidance to alleviate the growing pains. They won’t tell you to just write a business plan and take a loan . . .
- They’ll be honest. They’ll happily admit that they don’t know something they don’t know. They’ll tell you when they think an idea is unwise. They’ll offer their advice and then happily watch you make your own mistakes.
- They’ll be almost as proud of your successes as you are.
- And they’ll open up their Rolodex to offer you access to some of the resources and relationships they used to build their own successful enterprises.
While your boss may be your mentor, your mentor is not your boss. He is not your teacher. He is your advisor and your slightly senior compatriot. He is your coach and your confidant. One day, if you are very lucky, you will find he is your friend.
Finding a good mentor can make all the difference between success and failure when it comes to starting a business. It will almost certainly change the course of your life forever. If you are starting your first business, and you don’t have a mentor to guide you, perhaps it is time you set out to find one.
It may be one of the best business decisions you ever make . . .
Published in the S4S blog 23 Aug 2010
I don't have a Rolodex but I do have a vast network of contacts, I'm a she and not a he and if you ask for my advice you'll get it but you may not always like it.
If you want someone to offer you soft words and assurances that you can have whatever you want I'm not the right mentor for you. I don't deal in fluffy thinking and I know that businesses work irrespective of whether you are passionate about them or not.
If you want straight talking based on 30 years in business and a sound knowledge of what makes people tick, you've come to the right place. Call me.