Angel investor and business mentor Mark Lyttleton has a wealth of experience helping entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground, providing not only financial and strategic support but also personal advice to help them deal with the considerable challenges and stresses involved in launching a business. This article will look at business mentorship, providing an overview of the support provided by business mentors and exploring the many benefits of mentorship from the founder’s perspective.
Research shared by British Business Bank suggests that in the UK today, 70% of small business owners who receive some form of mentoring survive for at least five years, almost double the rate of non-mentored start-ups. It is startling to note that, in spite of this encouraging statistic, less than a quarter of small business owners enlist the help of a mentor.
The world of entrepreneurship is filled with resources. From peers to family and friends and online publications, advice about establishing and running a business abounds. However, as with most things in life, this information and support is only as reliable as its source.
A great business mentor is someone who knows through experience what it takes to start, operate and scale a successful business. Usually experts in their field, business mentors often bring decades of niche and general business knowledge to their mentees, making them an invaluable resource for all business leaders, from sole traders to established CEOs.
While online content and well-meaning friends and relatives can offer generic advice, business mentors can provide specialised instructions, helping founders to recognise and overcome potential problems and realise opportunities they otherwise may not have seen. One UPS survey revealed that 88% of business owners found the experience of working with a business mentor invaluable.
Having built and managed their own business empire, business mentors understand the importance of cashflow. Finance problems are one of the greatest challenges faced by entrepreneurs today, with many promising start-ups floundering due to poor financial management. A mentor can help steer an entrepreneur in the right direction in terms of reigning in unnecessary spending, helping them to futureproof against unanticipated cashflow issues and ensuring they see a return on investment for all of the time, energy and money they plough into their business.
Business mentors are adept at business planning and strategy, helping founders to identify the weaknesses, threats, strengths and opportunities presented in their market. Business mentors work closely with founders, helping them to deliver a solid plan of action to reach their objectives, holding them accountable and providing an objective viewpoint and second opinion.
One very important benefit of enlisting the help of a business mentor is the connections they can offer. As a successful business leader themselves, they are likely to have an extensive network of contacts across multiple industries, potentially helping founders to connect with financial advisors and lawyers, prospective investors or valuable industry contacts.
Building a business can be a lonely and uncertain process, with no guarantee of success. Flying solo, the entrepreneur can feel very alone. Having the weight of a business mentor behind them can help to instil confidence, as well as offering emotional support during challenging times.
A mentor can coax a founder out of their comfort zone, helping them to grow by providing the benefit of their wisdom, support and guidance. Having already ‘been there and done that’, business mentors share teachable moments learned through their own successes and mistakes, sharing their experience to help founders avoid common business pitfalls and realise opportunities they may never have spotted.