Top 10 Benefits of a Business Mentor

Cathy Burrell September 16, 2022

There are many benefits of a business mentor, and the search for your Mentor is exciting! There are many different types of mentoring available for women business owners, from peer groups to one-on-one mentoring relationships and specialty programs for women in tech or other fields. Regardless of which format you pick, there are incredible benefits from connecting with a Mentor. 

Benefits of a Business Mentor: #1 The answers to your burning business questions

Your Mentor understands what it’s like to own and operate a business. If you’re entering a new stage in your business—like seeing your sales take off, or moving from a solopreneur to boss—you may have what seems like an endless list of questions. The two of you have been matched for 6 months, and you want to know everything…including what the future holds! 

With a Mentor, the two of you can start to prioritize which questions need to be answered NOW and which ones can wait. 

Chances are, she will explain how you should go about finding answers to your business questions. If you don’t know where to start, here are 5 questions to ask your Mentor. You may discover this research mindset serves you well long after your relationship has come to an end.

Inspiration and ideas can come from anywhere, and sometimes a fresh perspective can help you to expand your horizons. 

Benefits of a Business Mentor: #2 Experience on how-to-do

Your Mentor is not your Jedi Master. She is someone who has, through trial and error developed a few essential skills that may be applicable to your business. If you ask your Mentor to explain how she set up her business books, or created a marketing plan, you may be disappointed when she cannot transplant that knowledge directly into your head. 

Your Mentor will take some time to listen to your business story and may have some suggestions on what may help smooth the way. Your Mentor understands processes and business operations. She may be able to support you in developing the necessary skills you need to streamline your day-to-day operations. 

Her real-world experience of working ON your business, not IN your business, is a key to growing your business.

Benefits of a Business Mentor: #3 A different perspective

My background is in fashion design, clothing manufacturing, and retail. In design…clothing, interior, graphic, we are taught the benefit of expanding our creative horizons by looking at EVERYTHING outside our industry. Inspiration and ideas can come from anywhere, and sometimes a fresh perspective can help you to expand your horizons. 

Your Mentor might be able to offer you a long-view of your business and your product or service. Her perspective from outside your industry could enable you to think outside your box and come up with some ideas that expand your reach. 

Have you ever considered exporting? Did you know that we define exporting as into another province OR across the globe? Your Mentor’s experience is like a two-way mirror, where you can see yourself and your business future…just a little differently.

Practice makes perfect—daily practice with a little dash of Mentor experience will have you wearing your superhero cape with a deep sense of accomplishment.

Benefits of a Business Mentor: #4 Having a trusted advisor

It’s one thing to have started a business as I did, with my father and oldest brother running parts of our family business. If I got stuck on something or had a personal matter to discuss, they were only a phone call away. 

Your business Mentor is on your side. She can be trusted to keep conversations private. Discussions concerning staff, clients, and suppliers are all common ground. If you are a sole proprietor, she may be the ONLY person you can discuss sensitive issues with. It may be the first time a business matter of this kind has come up for you, but most likely, your business Mentor will have experience in similar matters that she is more than willing to share. 

Benefits of a Business Mentor: #5 Improving your key skills

Every business is different; however, many business processes are transferable, no matter what type of business you’re running. Your Business Mentor can remember how difficult it was prior to honing key skills in her business. She can also remember how smoothly and efficiently her business ran when she mastered those skills!

Tapping into your Mentor’s insight on how to improve these business skills is like developing a superpower! One day you are dragging yourself into your brick and mortar location or down the hall to log onto your website, and then SHAZAM!!! You are transformed into a person who has mastered something that you never thought you would…all because your Mentor let you in on the secret. 

Practice makes perfect—daily practice with a little dash of Mentor experience will have you wearing your superhero cape with a deep sense of accomplishment.

Benefits of a Business Mentor: #6 Expanding your network

Busy business owners have to make time to expand their professional networks. Your business Mentor can open the door to her network. When I had my retail store, I was a member of our local Chamber of Commerce and a few other networking groups. But after working with clients all day—even though my clients were GREAT—it was too easy to postpone networking. 

When I am working with a Mentee, I often surprise myself with the number of resources I am able to suggest. Your Mentor is ahead of you in the years-of-experience department. She has worked with people in a variety of areas in her business and can often pass these names along to you. She has professional connections you can only dream of! Your Mentor’s experience makes it easy for her to recall a name or a business that may be exactly who you need.

Connecting people is one of the greatest compliments for both parties. And she’ll probably encourage you to get out there and enjoy those networking groups, too!

When you don’t know what you don’t know, a Mentor can save you some frustrations by sharing what they learned the hard way.

Benefits of a Business Mentor: #7 Getting constructive feedback

My husband and I were both in retail. I had one store for many years, and he was with a company with over eighty stores across Canada. We regularly talked about emerging trends, monthly sales, and marketing. 

On the flip side, many women don’t have an entrepreneur in their family or social circle, which can be isolating for a woman in business. There is only so much sharing about your business day you can do at the dinner table or at a social event before the ‘eye-rolling’ begins. 

Your Mentor understands and can relate to business. Business discussions with your Mentor can be productive and engaging. You may even be able to stop starting all your sentences with ‘just hear me out…’ 

Owning your own business is creative, exciting work, and it’s nice to be able to talk about business with someone who feels the same way.

Benefits of a Business Mentor: #8 Building the confidence to make informed decisions

When I first started my manufacturing business, shortly after completing my apparel design program, I remember calling my brother to ask, ‘what do I do now’? My brother was running a neighbourhood pub in Esquimalt, and he said, ‘don’t worry, you’ll get busy, and you know…it all just starts to happen.’ 

It did get busy, and I found my flow, but the confidence piece took a bit longer. The fun part of having your own business is that you get to set the direction. The scary part of having your own business is that you are never quite sure if the direction you have chosen is the ‘right’ one. 

Your Mentor understands that ‘what-if’ feeling. 

What if I did X instead of Y? What if I misjudged my target market? What if I didn’t get a large enough loan? 

Your Mentor can help you analyze your decisions and validate or question your reasons for moving forward with a business decision. The two of you can work through a process to help you move forward with confidence. Your decisions, no matter what the outcome, are building your confidence-muscles. You can consider your business Mentor as your personal trainer—no ice-pack required!

Benefits of a Business Mentor: #9 Save time and money

I always tell my mentees that business start-up is the most costly part of the process. When you are excited to start your entrepreneurial journey and start to pay for everything up-front, you can easily overspend and find yourself short of operating capital in the first few years. 

Your business Mentor understands the start-up phase of business and may be able to support you to cut those unnecessary expenses or avoid some rookie mistakes. When you don’t know what you don’t know, a Mentor can save you some frustrations by sharing what they learned the hard way. 

Having someone go through the seemingly endless list of start-up expenses and brainstorm how to prioritize will save you time and money. Your Mentor’s experience with cash flow is invaluable when you are new to entrepreneurship. I always encourage my mentees to be as honest as they can when discussing a budget. You can trust your Mentor to provide support without judgment and keep you accountable through the process. 

The time savings involved in working with your Mentor to put a plan in place and then working through action steps on your own time prior to your next meeting can’t be overstated. Your Mentor has experience with business operations, cash flow, and financing. She is someone with experience you can trust.

Benefits of a Business Mentor: #10 Learn new skills

You became an entrepreneur for many reasons. Perhaps you wanted to use your skills to work for yourself instead of making money for a company you did not own. Or perhaps you are a creative person, and your skills are not in the business field. Or, you are a wonderfully resourceful person who learns-as-she-goes-along. 

In all three of these examples, business skills were not number one on your list. Your business Mentor can teach you how to learn what you need to know in order to move forward with your business. I am not saying that the role of your business Mentor is to teach you everything you need to know about business (we have Business Advisors for that). I said that she can teach you how to learn or research what you need to know. Here are some things to consider if you’re evaluating if your business mentor is right for you.

Let’s say you need a bookkeeper. Your Mentor won’t teach you how to use the latest accounting program; however, she may teach you where to look for a bookkeeper, and help you create a list of questions to ask when you meet them for an interview. Your Mentor may have a specialty in marketing; however, she would not teach you how to design your own website. She may suggest someone who you could meet with to discuss costs to add a shopping cart to your existing website

Most entrepreneurs work alone or with 1 to 5 employees. Your Mentor can help you develop the skills to find out what you need to know to run your business successfully.

The benefits to having a business Mentor are boundless when you find a business mentorship program that works for you! Your Mentor does not have a magic wand or a superpower, but her wealth of experience may make it feel that way.  

You and your Mentor have entered into a relationship as equals. You both have a business, and you both want to be successful. Like all relationships, the Mentor-Mentee pairing requires work, respect, and communication. In my time as a Mentor, I always say that I benefited from the enthusiasm and energy of my Mentee as much as or more than she benefited from my experience. Enjoy your time together!

About Cathy Burrell

Cathy Burrell is Client Service Support for WeBC and an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience owning and operating a variety of businesses. She has a Master of Education degree from the University of Calgary, specializing in adult, community and higher education. Cathy believes COVID-19 highlighted the importance of clear communication, both online and offline. She currently helps clients develop their social, listening and critical thinking skills. Cathy works with busy business owners teaching digital literacy and communication education to give them insight into their digital customer base. Follow her on Twitter @CathyCavern

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