“Whenever I am asked ‘what is the missing link between a promising business person and a successful one’ – mentoring comes to mind” Sir Richard Branson
I grew up without the necessary support networks that most of us take for granted. This saw me reaching out to anyone with more experience than myself, asking questions and talking through my sticking points. I’ve continually been mentored and as a huge advocate of paying it forward, I have in turn mentored others for over 20 years.
I’ve been bold enough to ask, therefore privileged enough to receive. And I’ve been mentored by a group of extremely successful business leaders. Ranging from Dragons’ Den Investors to Secret Millionaires – it is the time spent with their magnificent minds that has had a huge impact on the way I approach life and business.
If you think you have a great idea. Yet, a handful of people who you really respect tell you that it needs a different approach in order to be successful; it’s likely that you’ll need to take that on board and adjust accordingly. Something I have needed to do many times!
I have worked as a Virgin Startup mentor for years and I am honoured to have worked with some incredibly bright, entrepreneurial talent alongside my consultancy roles. Although I typically have some kind of direct experience in the topics raised by mentees, it’s important to know that as a mentor, you don’t have to have all the answers. You just have to be willing to open your contact book, share what you know and if you don’t have the answers, it’s likely that you’ll know someone who does.
I have confidence that the most successful companies are those with the best leaders. And this is what drew me towards my choice of mentors. I wanted to understand how businesses in the same space were outperforming each other and the answer that always comes in at first place is leadership, followed closely by ‘culture’.
What I have seen is hardworking and ambitious people who understand the importance of staying humble. There’s not much room for ego at the top. You need to recognise when to call in a fresh set of eyes. Hire people who are better than you are. And when you reach a certain point in your development or you lack the experience to take your business to the next level, know that this is the best time to call in the mentors. Timing is everything and it can, in fact, be critical to the long-term success of your business.
For many entrepreneurs and individuals, working with a mentor is as much about personal development, as it is the development of the business. As the business changes so does the person running it. Entrepreneurs launch businesses. Then as the business grows they become managers. And in order to create lasting success, they’ll need to develop the skills required to become inspiring leaders.
So whether you need a mentor or you can be a mentor for someone else; I encourage you to jump on the mentoring bandwagon. And boldly seek out those who can help you or those who you can help. You’ve got to bring passion and hustle. No one person knows everything. And there are people out there who have more experience than you. Ones who have been through similar challenges before and who are willing to share their knowledge with you. The impact of working with experienced advisers is endless. Regardless of whether that’s in a personal or business space. So, if you cannot see where you are going – ask someone who has been there before!
Mentoring transforms businesses, brands and people – it’s as simple as that.