This month our focus is on mentorship and the value of using mentors in your business, even when the business is already a success; we feature mentor Frances Wright and Mmabatho Mokiti in our success stories; and Lionel Billings offers some insight into choosing the right mentor.
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October 2013   |   Volume 5.10

The best entrepreneurs constantly seek out mentors to guide them

The perception that business mentors are of use only to struggling, beginner businesses could not be further from the truth. Christo Botes, executive director of Business Partners, says in his experience it is the most successful entrepreneurs who seek out mentors and use them to ensure continued success.

Conversely, it is often the struggling business owner who holds the attitude towards a mentor of: “What can this guy teach me? What he is only starting to learn about my business, I have already forgotten”.

Botes can see why a mentor or business advisor could irritate some entrepreneurs. Nothing of what they say or do is rocket science, they are seldom cleverer than the business owner, they often know much less, technically, about the specific industry. They come in and ask relentless, obvious questions, often about areas of the business that the business owner avoids or finds uninteresting.

Business advice forged by the fire of experience

Frances Wright became a business advisor by mistake; or rather, by mistakes – many of them - which she had made when she was running a community radio station in the nineties.

They were the typical mistakes most business owners make. Since then, Wright has seen the same situation in countless other businesses – constant crises, high turnover of staff and customers, and miserable, overwhelmed business owners. They all stem from pretty much the same causes, she says: an over-focus by the owner on one part of the business to the detriment of other crucial areas, and the inability to standardise processes, and uncontrolled growth.

Success story:
Mentor becomes young entrepreneur's ‘business mom’

Mmabatho Mokiti would have survived in business – probably even thrived - without the advice and guidance of a mentor, but the 27-year-old entrepreneur from Johannesburg is adamant that signing up with a professional business advisor was one of the best things she did since starting her business three years ago.

Freshly graduated in maths and chemistry from the University of Johannesburg in 2010, Mmabatho launched herself straight into her own business called Mathemaniacs, a maths and science education service. She knew it was – and still is - the more difficult path to take to financial and career success.

Power of business mentorship lies in finding the right match

When asked how important having a mentor is when it comes to the development and growth of a business, Business Partners Limited SME Index respondents rated the average importance level as 73%.

According to Lionel Billings, Head of Consulting Services for Business Partners Limited, who matches quality business mentors with business owners, all new business owners, or entrepreneurs, should find a mentor to assist and guide them on in their business journey.

He says that this process does however come with its challenges, and even once a mentor is found with the required set of skills to help a business owner with a particular problem, the process may not be successful simply due to a clash of personalities. But when the match works, Billings says that there is enormous satisfaction of seeing potential and wealth unleashed as the ‘wobbly’ business turns around and starts growing.
Poll results Have you used a mentor in your business?
  • Yes
  • No
  • I plan to
View previous polls
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