Are You Working In The Business or Working On The Business?
If you are an entrepreneur and trying to go it alone, think again. You may have a great idea, an innovative product and a business strategy but before long you, too, will discover that these assets aren’t enough to sustain your business for the long haul.
As an entrepreneur, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tumult of running a business and you may find yourself falling into the trap of the entrepreneur’s curse: You spend almost all your time working in the business and not enough time working on the business or yourself and your own development.
If you want to be successful, you are going to need mentors. That’s right, multiple mentors. And, here is why. No one mentor can be all-wise and fulfill your needs for all things at all times.
Being an entrepreneur requires knowledge, competency, confidence and business savvy. It is not rocket science but it does require more than common sense. And, it requires making the time to work on your own development and the development of your business.
How do you get started?
Recognize that earning involves learning and that to grow your business you are going to need to grow yourself.
• Where would you like your business to be in the next (fill in the blank) years?
• Where are you now?
• What are the gaps?
• What are the challenges?
• What do we need to learn to fill the gaps and overcome the challenges?
Look in the mirror. Ask yourself:
• What are my challenges as a business owner?
• What competencies and capabilities will I need in order to grow my business?
• What do I need to learn?
• How can a mentor help me?
Where do you look to find mentors?
• The answer is everywhere. Keep your eyes open. Investigate what is available in your community: Chambers of Commerce, Small Business Associations, SCORE, Leadership Forums. These are good starting points for finding mentors. They will also give you exposure to experienced and successful business owners that in turn can create other business networks for you.
Use your current network to reach out to new networks. Look for successful entrepreneurs to network with who have achieved what you hope to achieve. Join networking clubs and associations related to your business. Look for entrepreneurs who demonstrate the competencies and capabilities you would like to develop. Follow up with people you meet; they know people who know people. And don’t forget to stay in touch with people even if they can’t help you immediately.
How do I know if I’ve found the right mentor?
• Will this person challenge and encourage you to raise the bar for myself and my business?
• Does this person have a sincere desire and willingness to mentor, and the knowledge and expertise I need?
• Is there a good learning fit between what I need and what this person has to share?
• Will this person have sufficient time to mentor me?
• Is this someone I would want to spend time with?
• Will I feel comfortable learning and interacting with this person?
If you are not working on your business, your business will be working on you. Who are your mentors?
Lois Zachary is the President of Leadership Development Services, LLC. and an international expert on mentoring and leadership development. She has written several books on mentoring. The newest one is The Mentor’s Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships. Other books include Creating a Mentoring Culture: The Organization’s Guide, and The Mentee’s Guide: Making Mentoring Work for You.