According to a Kabbage study carried out with more than 200 small businesses in the US, 92% of the small business owners agree that mentorship has a direct impact on the growth and survival of their business and 89% who didn’t have a mentor wish they had.
Do you still doubt the importance of mentorship?
This study is a clear indication of the role of mentorship in growing a business. Without mincing words, the business world is a dog-eat-dog environment; it is very competitive and to survive, you have to be fit in every way. There is a popular saying attributed to Isaac Newton that talked about standing on the shoulders of giants so you can see further. Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs will gladly admit that they stood on the shoulder of giants, in terms of mentorship.
What is mentorship? According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, mentorship is the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor and a mentor is a trusted counsellor or guide.
You might have degrees upon degrees on Business Administration but the truth is that the small business owner around your house who has been in business for 5 years is more knowledgeable about the business that you could ever think of knowing. There is indeed the place for school knowledge, especially as it relates to legal and other paperwork but the day-to-day running of a business will need actual practical knowledge of overseeing a business.
This is why many will agree that the role of mentoring in any business cannot be overemphasized.
How Can Mentorship Help You Grow Your Business Faster?
Practical Knowledge: As mentioned above, there is a huge difference between theoretical and practical knowledge. You can only learn theoretical knowledge in school – which is equally important and should not be underestimated. What this means is that if it is possible, you should either get a degree or enrol in professional studies; it will come in handy, after all, no knowledge is wasted. Plus, it will give you respect in the business world and therefore, help with networking because whether we like it or not, society tends to respect based on degrees and certifications. However, success comes only to those who actually know how the business world works and you can only learn this by practical knowledge. The mentors have gone before you and you can learn practical knowledge about the business that no amount of school knowledge can provide you with.
Support System: No man is an island and we all need some sort of support. The support of friends and family will always be important. There is a huge inspiration that comes from knowing that your loved ones are on board and rooting for you to succeed but their support can only do so much when it comes to actual business. You need someone that knows what they are talking about based on the experience that they have had doing business. Of course, the best mentors become friends or even your adopted family or the mentor could already be a friend or family before they became mentors. The point is they will be there to provide professional, financial, mental and even emotional support and they will be coming from the place of experience.
Networking Opportunities: Business experts will tell you the importance of networking in achieving success in business. While it is true that the business is largely a dog-eat-dog environment, you also cannot do it alone, so you will need trusted allies with whom you enjoy a mutually satisfying relationship. It might be difficult to penetrate the industry when you are just starting to find the people that will render help to you that will be necessary for your success. However, if you have a mentor, your mentor will most probably have worked enough years in the industry that they know the right people in the industry. Instead of trying to create this relationship yourself, you can use their connection and get into rooms that would have otherwise difficult for you to enter.
Guidance and Counselling: Your mentor has been where you are and therefore, will be in a good position to provide guidance for you. There are so many aspects of the business that you will need guidance on; partnership, branding, leadership, funding, hiring talents amongst others. The duty of your mentor will be to hold your hand and lead you through making decisions on these different aspects of the business without falling into the pitfalls that you would have likely fallen into if you have tried to do it on your own. Also, there will be there to advise you when you do make a mistake – after all, perfection eludes us as humans. You will have someone to work out a solution with you.
Self-confidence: It is clear that self-confidence is important for us as humans. As a business person or someone pursuing a professional career, it is even much more important to have self-confidence, it is said to be very attractive. In essence, it will attract the right people to us (investors and customers or clients). In order to sell yourself to others, you have to genuinely believe that you are good for the job. But let’s not kid ourselves; for many of us, self-confidence is easier said than done, that is why having a mentor in our corner is necessary. Knowing we have someone who is knowledgeable about business and is also ready to offer us support at any time we need it is a very big confidence booster. This eventually has an effect on success because having mentorship increases self-confidence and self-confidence attracts investors and customers, which eventually brings success.
Encouragement: One of the myths of entrepreneurship is that when you have a business of your own, you will work less and be less stressed. If only that were true but it isn’t. In actual fact, you do more work and are likely to be more stressed – that is, if you want to succeed. In this case, the business is yours and you take the success and failure more personal. As a result of this, you are in more pressure to do well and with that comes times you are seriously overwhelmed. Apart from the fact that your mentor can encourage you with words and provide you with help where you need it to ease your stress, the story of your mentor will serve as an inspiration at that point. Even the best of us have failed at one point in time; there is no successful person who hasn’t experienced failure or rejection, so remembering this will help you pick yourself up, knowing that you have a close example of what the outcome will be if you do not give up.
A Higher Chance of Success: According to the study mentioned above, more than 90% of the respondent admitted that mentorship had a direct impact on their success. Also, according to a 2013 Executive Coaching Survey, 80% of CEO mentioned that they received mentorship. These statistics show how mentorship is directly proportional to success. The fact that the major CEO we have today all at one point had or still have a mentor is a clear indication of how necessary mentorship is for the growth of a business. Therefore, as a business owner who cares about his business and being successful at it, you should definitely consider getting a mentor.
Speed and Accuracy: There are definitely bumps on the road to success as an entrepreneur. Every entrepreneur will be quick to let you know that it is not a bed of roses. With or without a mentor, you are likely to experience certain curve balls that life will throw at you that are basically synonymous to doing any worthwhile venture. However, if you have a mentor, you are more able to withstand some of these tough times. Apart from the fact that you have a constant support system who takes your success equally personal, you have someone who makes sure you don’t fall into the same pits he did be giving you a forewarning. So unlike others, you enjoy speed and accuracy in your growth level because you are not drawn back or delayed by certain failures and mistakes.
More Credibility: You likely already credible on your own because you believe in integrity and hard work. But that is not how it works in the business world, you will have to prove yourself and proving yourself might take more time than necessary. But since you are standing on the shoulders of a mentor, you can stand on his credibility. Many customers or investors will have dealings with you based on the fact that they feel being coached by a certain mentor already gives you credibility. Of course, you will not ride on his credibility forever if the experience people have with you is different from what they hoped. So, while they have brought them to you, it is left to you to make them stay through providing them with excellence. But what this means is that the time you will spend trying to gain credibility and recognition can be sorted out just by your association with your mentor.
In conclusion, there are no absolutes in life and so, you will still have to put in a lot of work. In fact, it is advisable that you work as though you have no mentor; that is, put in the same effort that you would have put in if you had no mentor. Don’t take for granted their presence in your life, take advantage of it and be on your way to success.