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The truth about mentoring and business ownership

Many mentors claim they learn most through teaching. What degree of truth lies in that depends largely, I suspect, on both the personality and the motivations of the individuals concerned.

However from my perspective the one thing that should never be in dispute is the fact that mentoring and business ownership should always go hand-in-hand.

Taken in its most traditional sense, the Oxford Dictionary describes a mentor as “an experienced and trusted advisor” and mentoring as the act of “advising and training someone”. But I prefer to use the more modern definition that suggests mentoring is “a relationship between two individuals based on a mutual desire for development towards career goals and objectives”.

My experience of being mentored

In the early days of my career I was helped by a raft of caring individuals who were motivated by little else but the goodness of their own heart chose to demonstrate the more human side to managing.

With my background in accounting and finance and now as a registered business valuer and a director of my own company, I feel it is my duty to give back by sharing my experiences with my brokerage team and my customers, assisting to drive personal growth, while at the same time helping to build their skills, knowledge and understanding.

I also see it as my task to help them get match fit for their current role and perhaps even prepare them for their next.

Are mentoring and business ownership compatible?

When discussing my approach to mentoring by other business owners I am frequently asked whether I am worried that my mentorship is just training up my future competition. However, I believe this goes back to my abilities in picking the right staff and/or clients, understanding their personalities and ensuring I have treated them well enough to keep the communication lines open.

When I first began my professional career, it was common for people to remain in the same job, at the same company for the duration of their career. These days it is common for people to be employed in up to seven different sectors and hold numerous jobs during their professional careers.

What this means is that it’s more important than ever to come up with innovative ideas to retain staff and clients.

The business case for mentoring

A lot of high net worth individuals I know, have a great idea and then find someone with complementary skills who is equally as passionate and energetic, and work with them on a profit share basis, or even offer them a shareholding whereby their managers may get 10 percent, or a partner who is starting in from the very beginning may end up giving 50 percent to be the person running it.

Paying it forward

But whether through mentoring or other successful retention concepts, as business owners I feel it is beholden on us to ensure we keep all those whom we have professional interactions with engaged and challenged by their roles as well as ensuring they are given adequate opportunities to have their voice heard and to learn from others.

I think if you give, whether it's through teachings, educating your customer base or mentoring your staff, it generally comes back to you tenfold.

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Mark Jason
LINK Australia, Managing Director