A small amount of time invested on your part to share your expertise can open up a new world for someone else. – Mark Zuckerberg
Running your own business isn’t easy. Every day brings a new set of challenges, which you won’t always know how to deal with.
No one can operate in a bubble. As much as we have confidence in our own ideas and abilities, chances are that we’ll need help at some point.
Business mentors are important because they open up your horizons; challenge your thinking and help you reach milestones and give you strategies to do so. They can help you get to the next level – often a very difficult hurdle. Their experience and understanding is invaluable in giving you guidance to make the right choices.
Most importantly, they can be all the difference between survival and bankruptcy. And we’re not being melodramatic here.
Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction. – John C Crosby
A study into the success of New York tech startups from 2003 – 2013 had some very interesting insights. It found that 33% of the startups that went on to become top performers were all mentored. That’s three times better in terms of success than companies that weren’t.
And that’s not all. A 2014 US survey found that 70% of small businesses that are mentored will last more than five years. This is double the survival rate of businesses that aren’t mentored.
In the UK a government study in 2013 found that 74% of businesses that had used mentors completely trusted them and would use them again.
The business landscape is a fast moving series of rapids. So it’s a massive bonus if you can find someone who’s already mapped out the terrain and knows where the obstacles are and how to avoid them.
For instance, in 2014, SAGE surveyed 11 000 small to medium businesses all around the world. The findings were emphatic. A massive 93% of businesses said that mentoring helped them succeed in their goals.
Closer to home, ABS figures show that alarmingly 60% of all Australian small businesses fail within the first three years. This is a pretty high figure. Having a business mentor steer you out of trouble may be the vital difference to your businesses staying afloat.
Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults that we would like. It’s the only way we grow. – George Lucas, Producer/Director Star Wars
Some of the most successful companies in the world have had equally famous mentors.
For instance, who do you think was Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor, when he was building Facebook into a world wide phenomenon?
Imagine. You probably couldn’t ask for a better mentor than that.
Bill Gates, currently listed as the second richest man in the world, was mentored by billionaire Warren Buffett. Gates says Buffett gave him the skills to deal with tricky situations and made him think long term.
And Marissa Mayer, the head of Yahoo, was mentored by Larry Page, the creator and founder of Google. Richard Branson has spoken openly how Virgin would never have been a success without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker. And Warren Buffett himself was mentored by Benjamin Graham, who’s considered the father of value investing.
The list could go on forever… but what’s most interesting is how all these amazing, genius business minds were so keen to seek out a mentor. As brilliant as they were, they knew they needed help to get to the next stage.
The first step to finding a good mentor, is of course, coming to terms with the fact that you actually can benefit from having one – Sir Richard Branson, Virgin
The very qualities that small business entrepreneurs need to get a venture going – strong, determined self belief and an independent streak, all very admirable – can also work against them.
To put it simply: some business owners can find it hard to take advice.
They may feel that it’s a sign of weakness or it’s confessing that they’re out of their depth. Far from it. In fact, using a business mentor shows that you want to expand and grow. The skills and strategies you’ll learn will only enhance your own abilities and also boost your business.
There can also be a suspicion about using mentors and trusting their credentials and experience. Clearly the best mentors are ones with specific industry experience in your field, not generalists.
Business owners are notoriously stubborn and resistant to advice as we’ve noted. We get that it’s not easy to suddenly take advice from a stranger about a business you’ve built from the ground up and are burning with passion for. It’s totally understandable.
So think of mentoring as being like getting a free upgrade of your entire systems. But the beauty of it is, you can choose what you like or don’t like. If someone can offer you the chance to make your business more efficient and lucrative and grow to a new level, wouldn’t you take it? Bringing in a mentor doesn’t mean you lose control. It simply means that you have better strategies which lead to better outcomes. The mentor has no interest in taking over your business, only to help you grow.
So mentors are key to a business’s growth. Which leads us to…
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. — Isaac Newton
Business mentoring is not a new phenomenon. You could say it started as far back as the Ancient Greeks around 300 BC.
Plato was a mentor to Aristotle – their business was writing plays and creating philosophy.
Both were titans of their age – yet they saw that they would each develop by working with each other. And that’s as far as we know in recorded history. There are probably earlier examples in other areas.
In the Middle Ages there was an entrenched Guild system where apprentices would serve under a mentor to learn how to be a blacksmith or a cobbler or a merchant. This person was called the master. Even when the apprentice had learnt the trade and was ready to move on, they still kept in touch with the master. So once their own business was up and running they would still visit their mentor regularly for insights and tips. It would be a mentor relationship for life.
In modern times, with niche business industries arising (for instance stock market trading) and new skill sets being developed all the time (from use of cloud platforms to bookkeeping) it’s meant that businesses have been keen to find a mentor who can help them and master complicated new concepts.
We’ve mentored many businesses over the years and very few of them fail. – Michael Mekhitarian ATB
From all this it’s clear that businesses have always sought mentors throughout the ages. It’s invaluable to have a business mentor who has knowledge and can provide advice and sound strategies to take you to the next level. A business mentor is a fabulous tool to have in your kit. And in today’s highly competitive environment that is a huge factor.
ATB’s strength is our experience of working with all kinds of businesses for many years. This can be with large prosperous businesses where the CEO is struggling with time management or with small startups where the business is struggling with crippling debt.
ATB is highly effective in helping a business to transition from one phase to another. Going from one level of business to another is monumentally tricky and requires lots of careful planning.
We help with cash flow, choosing the right software, restructuring and making sure you have plans in place that means your business can transition seamlessly and have a sound financial blueprint for the future.