As business owners we start our journey in business with excitement and passion but over time we start to lose that energy and enthusiasm, and this soon can turn to other issues. The main reason for this is that business is hard and very challenging and when we first start out, we don’t envisage any issues because we are too excited about the journey. But we soon realise that we are faced with many challenges on a daily or weekly basis.

One of the key issues here is that we don’t have anyone to turn to that has the knowledge, experience or neutral views to share these issues with and shoot the breeze, and if you are fortunate, a mentor or coach is normally the best person for this.

Choosing a mentor or coach

Everyone is a professional when it comes to your business. Why is this? Well, it is easier to tell someone else how to run their business than it is to run your own, because they don’t have the responsibility, accountability and most of all, it is easier to see other issues than your own. So, pick a mentor or coach carefully and wisely, if you get it wrong it can cost you a lot of money and time and potentially your business. I have seen this happen and it was a lesson I learnt in my early teen years with my father’s business and it was very ugly in the end. I guess that is why after gathering business intelligence for more than 30 years I have found that coaching and mentoring is my Nirvana.

Who shouldn’t you choose for a mentor or coach?

There is a difference between a board, advisor, a family member or a mate and a mentor or coach. The gap is monumental, and it is worth taking the time to explore, discover and ask questions in your search for a mentor or coach. The difference I am talking about is “AGENDA”. Everybody has one and sometimes you can’t see it and sometimes they don’t even know it, it can be subliminal.

Always Get Everyone Nodding and Doing your Actions.

Be careful and take control of your business when searching for a mentor or coach. This will serve you well.

Don’t use a family member, mate or a person that is close to your business, because when it comes to the tough discussions (and you will have plenty) it will be hard for you and the other person to have a clear focus on what is right for the business. As Jim Collins says in his bestselling book, Good to Great, everyone must always make decisions for the greater good for the business.

What to look for when choosing a Mentor or Coach?

There are certainly qualities that make standout mentors and coaches, to get an idea on who’s got these qualities then look at sports coaches like Wayne Bennett (NRL) – Jose Marinho (EPL) – Sir Alex Ferguson (EPL) – Jean Todt (F1) all these coaches have a certain quality, they listen, are selfless, understand behaviours and communicate effectively.

The qualities you need to look for in a mentor or coach will be;

⁃ Honesty
⁃ Integrity
⁃ Compassion
⁃ Selflessness
⁃ Positive outlook
⁃ Life experiences
⁃ Credibility

As I like to remind my clients, if you live by your principles then your principles will provide you life.

You won’t find the perfect person, but if you have a balance of these qualities then you are on the right track to having a very successful relationship with someone who will be your business rock for years to come.

My rule of thumb for seeking out a mentor or coach is a balance of all the above, plus a couple of really important things and these are;

⁃ Over the age of 40
⁃ Have children that are in their late teens or older
⁃ Have been in business or a significant management role for more than 10 years
⁃ Have experienced struggles in business

These added qualities will bring a level of guidance and understanding to what the future will dial out, and that is invaluable.

The shared economy

One thing I have learnt from my years in the marine industry and more recently owning a holiday accommodation business, is that the shared economy is here to stay, but what is very cool is that this is the best way to learn, grow and prosper. I introduced “Best Practice Breakfasts” to a company I was contracting to, where the clients would get together once a quarter and share knowledge, experiences and friendship. What became obvious is that the guys all grew and learnt from each other by sharing. So, one piece of advice I can give is don’t be protective of your business patch, sharing will provide more benefits than you could possibly imagine. As the famous quote goes, givers give, and givers get.