Choosing the right mentor can help your business

Business Q&A

Published 21/05/2016 | 00:00

Jim Doyle.
Jim Doyle.

Q AS a small business owner, I feel certain areas of my business now need attention, can you advise me on why choose a mentor to help me move forward?

A Having a business mentor or business coach can make that journey a lot more enjoyable and productive. By having a person to assist you with the large and small decisions in business you can get exactly what you want from the business.

The first place that I begin with a business owner is to help them decide what they want exactly and this in itself is sometimes difficult as they are usually not clear about this. Then we decide what the objectives are, pick a strategy and implement the tactics for delivery. Most important issue with business owners is to stay on focus. If you're going to make a mistake in business and everyone does - you might as well get it over with quickly. Learn the lessons and move on. But there's something even better than failing fast and that's learning from someone who can help you see through these issues before they arise.


It's never too soon to look for a small business mentor: Choosing a business mentor is the first step in embracing an entrepreneurial frame of mind. It signals you're ready to learn, pivot, adapt and evolve. But don't feel you have to take the first mentor that comes along. It's important to connect with them on a personal level. You'll get much more out of your mentor if you can share the full experience of running a business - from the numbers right through to the behavioural side of the business and how you address habits and problems.

Look for someone compatible: When picking a mentor, go for someone who's in business themselves. An industry veteran can offer useful insights but they don't know what it's like to run a business. And don't overlook the personal side of the relationship.

What should you expect from a Mentor?

- Knowledge and expertise you don't have yet

- Access to valuable networks and capabilities

- Reassurance that mistakes are okay

- A good eye for spotting business weaknesses & opportunities you can't see

- Support, encourage and provide you with direction

- They see you as a whole person, not just a business

A mentor should discuss solutions and innovative ways of improving business activity, help with the decision making process in your business, and offer assistance in compiling a business plan.

A business mentor will not tell you what to do. They tell you about similar problems they had and show you how to find a solution. You have to feel comfortable with your mentor as a person because you'll be sharing more than just numbers. That means they'll see your vulnerabilities when you have bad days.

See it as a learning opportunity, when you have a mentor adopt the following mind-set: - Understand what you can't do - Invite (and genuinely listen to) criticism - Accept that things will go wrong - It's all about opening yourself up to learning and growing.


Wexford Local Enterprise Office provides grant aid for a mentor programme designed to match up the knowledge, skills, insights and entrepreneurial capability of experienced business practitioners with small business owner/managers who need practical and strategic one to one advice and guidance.

Wexford People

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