In March 2014 I signed up with three fellow small business owners for a monthly mentoring group. We’re all from different business sectors so there’s no clashing in terms of clients or “trade secrets” and we’re pretty much all “one man bands”, although the fourth member of the group is experiencing rapid growth in his business and has recently employed staff, after realising and accepting that he can no longer do everything himself. The fifth member of the group is our mentor, a local business coach who facilitates the sessions and makes us think for ourselves, Mike Santopietro of Minerva Business Consultants.
We meet once a month, and at first I really didn’t know what to expect from the group sessions. After all, I’m running my business, I have clients, the invoices go out every month and thankfully I get paid for my efforts – so how could I possible need accountability or mentoring? However, at the end of every session each of us makes approximately three commitments based on the events in the session, which we will endeavour to achieve (or at least progress) by the next monthly meeting.
Not only do I now look forward to my monthly mentoring group, I actually put time aside to do my “homework” and plan for the next meeting. In the six months that we’ve been having the monthly sessions (the get-together in March was a brain-storming exercise) I feel that my business has benefitted in terms of better planning, knowing which direction I want to head towards (and how!) and learning from the others how to resolve everyday obstacles faced by the majority of small business owners.
We’ve tackled issues head-on, come up with our personal visions, our company visions, completed a SWOT analysis and at the time of writing, we’re all trying to get our heads round Critical Success Factors – what makes our businesses tick and how do we move them forward to the next level.
On the other side of the coin, my own business confidence is growing: our round-the-table problem solving sessions give all of us an opportunity to share knowledge and advice with each other, something which until recently, I’d have been horrified at, afraid of not knowing the answer or suggesting the wrong thing.
I also love the level of accountability. As mentioned earlier, every month we commit to a number of pledges, and yes, each pledge is re-visited and reported back to the group with our progress. There’s no hiding place – something I’m really enjoying and a definite factor when it comes to moving my Tao Business Solutions forward.
For anyone thinking of joining a mentoring group, I’d say 100% Go For It – it will help you with any advice, increase your skills and help with any confidence issues you may have. It will also help you to put things into perspective – and can even be an arena in which to vent. It’s an investment in yourself, and one which is worth every penny.
If you’ve had any experience of mentoring, either being mentored or as the mentee, I’d love to hear your comments.