What is it about successful business owners? Their mentors.
When you search online on "the key ingredients required to grow a 7-fold business" or "grow hack your business" you will find answers like; competent leadership, hiring the right employees, having a strategic plan etc. All answers are no doubt sound advice that can give business owners idea on how better to run their business.
However, business owners will still be restricted by their own ideas, actions, experience, connections and emotions. This can potentially increase chances of decisions made based on personal bias, limitation of experience, insufficient data and result in the opposite outcome than was intended or at best business stagnation. Some business owners will argue that they have their co-partners, friends or even family members to help them with their business. Yes, it's true that co founder businesses have a higher chance of success largely attributed to the information and justification required to agree a plan however, how many founders have the industry experience or the relevant knowledge necessary to guide a business to success in the shortest possible time?
That is why, the secret sauce of many successful businesses is: a mentor. A person that is highly experienced and has the industrial know-how on what it takes to grow a business and mitigate the operational risks while doing so.
You don’t have to look far for case studies. Oprah Winfrey was mentored by famous author and poet, Maya Angelou. She once quoted that, “Mentors are important and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship” elle.com article here.
Even Mark Zuckerberg, the Billionaire founder of Facebook, was mentored by the great Steve Jobs. When Jobs passed away in 2011, Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page, “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend”.
But if mentors are so pivotal to the success of many large corporations, why doesn’t every business owner actively seek a mentor? According to Richard Branson, a large reason for that is because they feel it is a sign of weakness. This is a basic fallacy that needs to be corrected.
Small business owners need to put their ego behind and realise that they too need guidance. Chances are, this will save them from many of the business pitfalls and smoothen-out their entrepreneurial journey.
The catch is that, depending on business owners’ connections, it may be difficult for them to find mentors that want to help their business grow. It takes a great deal of networking, reaching out and precious time to find the right mentor. Often, business owners are too preoccupied in the day-to-day operations and business planning to prioritise that. James Ient our shareholder argues being too busy is damaging to business in this article.
However, there are some avenues Entrepreneurs can use to gain easy access to mentors. Jai Financial, for instance, launched the MyCFO service, where they provide advice on change initiation, operational performance improvements, increasing commercial effectiveness, growth strategy making, etc. (as seen in Business Insider and Yahoo Finance) There are also various other organisations that provide support to businesses, such as Singapore Business Federation, which has a standalone mentorship program for local companies.
Ultimately, having a mentor does not guarantee a successful company. You still need a combination of a capable leader, resilient team, effective business planning, a never-say-die attitude, and other factors. But nonetheless, mentors make the business owner’s journey a whole lot easier, and much more rewarding.