FINDING A BUSINESS MENTOR
What will you do to beat the odds that your business will close within its first 18 months?
Most new businesses fail within the first 18 months of operation. Despite this fact, many overly-optimistic small business owners think they have a really great business that’s immune to statistics. A year later, they find themselves out of money and out of energy, and close their doors. To help avoid this fate, the common advice is to find a mentor to guide a new business through its infancy. This sounds like good advice. Who better to guide us past obstacles than someone who’s already done it successfully? However, it isn’t easy to find someone who is willing to sacrifice their time to mentor us along our journey. With the explosion of small business and so many entrepreneurial start-ups, where can you find your business mentor? This is the wrong question to be asking.
THE WRONG QUESTION
You’re asking the wrong question. What makes you so special or worthy of mentoring? With an endless supply of new business owners who are struggling and desperate for help, there simply aren’t enough mentors to go around. Why should a mentor choose you over everyone else? Are they not as deserving as you? There are entire sections of self-help books in stores, but similar sections about helping others seem to be nonexistent. The truth is, if you want to be mentored, you must start by mentoring others.
The PLUS | MINUS | EQUAL effect
We commonly assume that the easiest path to wisdom and profit is to learn from someone more successful above us. When we make this assumption, we are ignoring the PLUS, MINUS, and EQUAL effect.
We can learn much about the world from those who have already walked the path that we are just beginning to travel.
– We can learn and grow from our peers and those who share similar experiences and struggles.
– We can gain fresh, untainted perspectives from those whom we may initially see as inexperienced.
Even if you may not yet have the skills to be a PLUS, you can always help others and yourself as an EQUAL or even a MINUS.
I began my own journey of looking for a mentor 18 months ago. Despite asking friends and relatives for suggestions I was unable to find one that was a good fit for me. I decided that I would mentor other people instead. I reached out to a few Facebook groups and asked who needed help. The response was overwhelming. Two hundred people came to my Facebook group within 5 days!! From this pool I set up 4 mini-masterminds. Using the same Plus, Minus and Equal process,I found that there were people that I could help with advice, guidance and perspective but who in turn also helped me.
Only by practicing the skills needed in mentoring others can you truly benefit from a mentor of your own.
STUCK IN TRAFFIC (ANALOGY)
Let’s use a simple analogy: a traffic jam. You’re on the freeway with hundreds of other cars, all heading in the same direction. Most vehicles have only one person in the car, when they have the capacity to carry four or even five. Ask yourself: is everyone around me so much different from me? You’re car isn’t full, either. The jam is caused because we are not sharing a ride. It’s easy to get frustrated with the other drivers, but the reality is that you are just as responsible for the traffic jam as they are. If you are not part of the SOLUTION, you are part of the PROBLEM.
ARROGANCE OR EGO?
Why do we expect people to give to us when we are not prepared to give back? Is it our arrogance or our ego that’s to blame? Every new business owner has something to offer immediately: offering your life skills, perspective, education, experience, or even your opinion to someone might give them just what they need to get out of a rut. Don’t use your inexperience as an excuse to skip an opportunity to help someone else. How will you seek out a person that needs you? We gain more by offering help than we do receiving it. Missing an opportunity to mentor someone hurts you, too.
THE SHARING ECONOMY
In a true sharing economy, everyone does more with less. We’re not talking the Uber bullshit sharing. (There’s no mention of money being exchanged in the definition of sharing. Uber is simply paying for an underutilised resource.)
We can and should be doing more with less–and that includes teaching others at every chance. This way of thinking helped our ancestors survive: knowledge belonged to every member within the Tribe. We can reconnect by joining groups and sharing our knowledge with one another. We don’t all have to reinvent the wheel.
In his book “Ego Is The Enemy
,” Ryan Holiday talks about the “anteambulo.” In ancient Rome, the anteambulo was a person whose job it was to walk in front of his patron to clear the way. Are you prepared to help out and clear a path for someone else?
Society is progressing into the “Age of Connection.” Companies and individuals are using their brands to connect people, forming value-driven local and global communities like never before. Are you? What sort of values does your brand stand for? How are you using your brand to create new communities whose members help each other?
I created Eccountability because I found it hard to make real connections with other like-minded people. I struggled for over a year to find a mentor that was right for me. But then I realised that the best way to gain the most knowledge was to help others before I helped myself.
My challenge to you is to go out and do your own peer mentoring before looking for a mentor of your own. Connect with someone who is on a similar path. Get into the habit of helping each other, offering advice and support. “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Until that time, get out and teach others what you know.
P.S. Want more advice on how to connect to like-minded business owners? Check out our Virtual Masterminds post, or join our private Facebook group to reach out to connect with other like-minded people.
P.P.S. My favourite social media channel, LinkedIn, is trialling some kind of mentor offering on its platform. It’s clear that peer mentoring is a hot topic right now that will continue to grow.