Looking for a Business Mentor

One of the best resources that a business owner can get is a mentor. I am not referring to a coach per se, but a mentor, and the distinction is important. A mentor can help a new business owner gain experience without the pain of making mistakes (or at least, reducing the pain and frequency of those mistakes).

Why do I not include a coach in this category? Simple – there’s a conflict of interest.

While I do not accuse any particular coach of the following, it is something to be aware of when recruiting ac coach for your business. A coach is in the business of coaching. They earn their fees by spending time with you, by providing you with material, by getting you to continue to be their client, and to refer other clients to them. As such, while a coach does want you to succeed (thereby garnering additional clients through your referrals), they also want that success to be slow, not fast, so that you will continue to be a client for a long time.

A rapid success would mean that you’ve learned the lessons. Even were that not to be true, because of the success you’ve seen, there would an inclination to remove the expense of retaining your coach. Slow success would show you why the coach is worth the fees, and would keep you paying them for as long as it took to fully succeed.

What I would look for in a mentor, therefore, is an altruistic reason for coaching that cannot be explained by the fees I pay. This could be a successful businessman who sees the mentoring as a way of giving to the next generation of business owners some of their experience. It could be someone who simply wishes to donate their time and expertise, or charge a minimal amount relative to what they could be earning.

The altruism means that this mentor would be happy to see you succeed rapidly as well as slowly. Since the financial gain is almost irrelevant, the conflict of interest is likewise removed, or at least reduced.

This is not to say that I’m looking for a handout. I’m strongly of the belief that if someone does work, they should be compensated fairly for it. As such, even a mentor could expect to be compensated for their time. But the compensation should not be the reason that the person is coaching me (or you, or anyone). Rather, it should extend from some other altruistic cause, with the financial reward being for the value of what they deliver.