BY BILL FAETH
1. To whom do you turn for advice when you have to make payroll in three days but don’t have the cash?
2. How do you get your business to be “bankable”?
3. How do you grow from $250K to $5M if you’ve never done it before?
You learn from a mentor who has experience to share.
One of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time is Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook. However, there is a little-known fact about Mark: He had a mentor in Steve Jobs, who enlightened him with wisdom about building strong teams and keeping his company highly focused as it started to grow.
From the outside it would appear that Facebook and Apple would be fierce competitors and rivals, but Zuckerberg credits Jobs with making a lasting impact on his personal and corporate success. He was smart enough to seek out Jobs, who was older, wiser, and had built a company similar to Zuckerberg’s vision for Facebook.
Many operators turn to me for mentorship, and I am more than willing to help. But, like Mark Zuckerberg, I didn’t magically build a wealth of knowledge for growing companies on my own. I had—and continue to have—mentors. Actually, I have had at least one mentor for each of the 23 businesses I have started over the past 26 years, and I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today without them.
Some believe that entrepreneurs don’t need mentors and should just “figure it out on our own” when we have questions or problems. But in my experience, a good mentor/mentee relationship is vital for entrepreneurs of all ages and at all stages of growth.
When your instinct tells you to march to your own drum, why should you seek mentorship and advice from more experienced and successful entrepreneurs? Consider these benefits.
Most business owners often think they know everything about their company and can corner the market on innovative thinking and implementation. But anyone who has worked with a mentor will tell you that they didn’t become successful on their own.
A seasoned mentor can challenge you to think in ways that never occurred to you because they have seen more of the world and business than you have. They have been solving problems, managing scale, and growing teams and culture for a much longer time. A mentor may not have all of the answers, but if you allow him to share his experience with you, your knowledge will surge and the path to finding the right solution will be achieved faster and easier.
Network beyond your reach
In business, it is important to have relationships with the right people. You may not be the best at networking or expanding your reach within the industry, but a well-established mentor will be willing and able to help you bridge this gap.
For example, a seasoned mentor will have the network, connections, relationships, and knowledge to help you identify the right technology for your business; leverage a warm introduction to the affiliate manager of a large company you want to work with; or help you get your perimeter-seating limobus insured when you don’t have this reach on your own. If you only network within your inner circle of fellow operators and colleagues, you won’t have the access to the business leaders currently making the big decisions that affect our industry.
Insight beyond your knowledge
Often a single piece of advice from a mentor can be the catalyst that changes your frame of reference forever. Your industry friends and peers may share their perceptions and intuitions with you, but when you respect the wisdom of your mentor, you are much more likely to accept and value his insight and take action. A good mentor will provide the path to application and implementation, which presents far greater value than just an opinion.
Experienced mentors can share the intangible nuances of communication skills they have mastered over years of experience and have most likely learned from their mentors.
Bonus: Step out of the industry
Your journey to find a mentor can lead you down many paths, from reading books, to hiring a coach, or joining a mastermind group. It is my experience that a group consisting of entrepreneurs from different industries provides the most value, as they offer different perspectives, but the business, financials, communication, and growth factors remain the same or very similar.
I have been involved with mastermind groups of this type for more than 15 years and can honestly say that I have had a 100 percent success rate in my past six business ventures because of the mentors I met there. The knowledge bestowed upon me from the group members who were not in my specific industry has made the largest impact on my success because they proffered unique perspectives and value propositions that could be applied to my business.
When you are ready to take the next step professionally, stand on the shoulders of giants. It will accelerate your business and give you a new perspective into your operations and the options you have to be able to grow, scale, and achieve the success you want for your company. [CD0716]
Editor’s note: Are you still looking for your mentor? Now’s the perfect time to sign up for our Operator Mentoring Program, which will be held at the 2016 CD Show in Washington, D.C., on October 9. Check out chauffeurdrivenshow.com for more information. Registration is required.
Bill Faeth is founder and president of Inbound Marketing Agents in Nashville and founder of Limo University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.