It may help to start by explaining why I myself became a Business Mentor. The answer, quite simply, is out of frustration.
Let me explain. I had a pretty successful thirty-six-year career in the corporate world of banking, which, for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed. However, from the start of the millennium I saw the culture changing and it was the belief that the company’s values no longer reflected my own that made me decide it was time for me to move on. It wasn’t an overnight decision; it was gradual, but the clues were there, seeing just how many ABBA titles I could mention in one of the numerous conference calls, loosening the flip chart so it collapsed when the MD jumped up to illustrate something at a board meeting. These were all signs that maybe I was not taking my senior role too seriously anymore. I think the final ‘act’ that made me realise it was time for something else was not collecting the obligatory daily sales figures from my team but instead holding competitions to see who could make the best animal noise, Llama and Dolphin were some of the first I seem to recall.
So, deciding it was time to move on, I took the first step; writing down on a sheet of paper what I was good at and importantly what I enjoyed doing. The things that stuck out to me were that I enjoyed working with business owners (as I had done a fair bit of this in my career) and also loved coaching, mentoring and developing people. This brought me to the conclusion that I would get real satisfaction from mentoring/coaching business owners and hence a Business Mentor was born!
So, after thirteen years of mentoring business owners, let me tell you why I do it. I am truly passionate about helping people, and the satisfaction I get from helping a business owner grow their business, making it more profitable, getting them a better work-life balance, or whatever else it is that they need help with. I love it!
Yes, I earn a good level of income from it but genuinely that is very much a nice spin-off to doing something you love. The Japanese have a word for it; "Ikigai". Meaning you have found your reason for being; something that you are good at, that adds value to people, and I get paid to do it.
As a Business Mentor, I get to choose when I work. I never miss school plays, etc. can take my daughter to school and lots of other things that are important to me. I am in charge of my life, doing something I love. I can earn to a certain extent, as much or as little as I need. If it sounds pretty damn perfect, then yes - for me it is.
Actually, what is important is not the qualifications you have (although undoubtedly, they can be useful) but the experience you bring to your role as a Business Mentor. Take me as an example. I have no formal qualifications, I left school at fifteen and never took any GCSE’s (O Levels). What I do have is a whole wealth of experience gleaned over my thirty-six years career across sales, analysis of business financials, marketing, processes, managing people and leading small to very large teams, customer service, and so on.
All of these resonate with what a business owner is doing on a day-to-day basis and are the experiences I call on day to day when dealing with clients. In addition, I read. I read a lot of business books and try to read one at least every couple of weeks. From every single one, I will pick up something that can make me a better mentor or coach.
So, in a funny way, my thirty-six years of corporate life was my apprenticeship for doing what I do now.
For me the skills that are essential to being a successful mentor come under the larger heading of ‘Communication’ but specifically are as follows:
The answer is two-fold. If you want to volunteer to become an ‘unpaid’ mentor there are a large number of organisations that you can offer your services to. Many of these can be found on a mentor portal like www.mentorsme.co.uk. This site was set up by the Government in conjunction with several British Banks to facilitate mentoring for small businesses.
If you want to generate an income as a Business Mentor, then I would suggest there are two ways of going about this. First, and most difficult it must be said, is to start up yourself as a new business providing mentoring. This is how I started, but why is it more difficult? Mainly because you are starting from scratch; everything you need to do from marketing to creating your website, your offering, etc. It all has to be created and for me that took up most of the first six months at least.
The less difficult route is to join an established business mentoring company such as UK Business Mentors, as a franchisee. Yes, of course, you have to pay for that but the amount of the fees you pay should be recoverable within the first year of trading and your earnings should be much higher as you literally start from day one after your training. The other advantage is the ongoing support you receive, having your own mentor, and the feeling of being part of a team rather than managing on your own which can feel very lonely, I can attest to that. Find out more about how to become one of our business mentors.
For me, business mentoring has been a wonderfully fulfilling part of my career. I have no wish to stop and so I guess I will leave it to my body or my brain to decide when I have to stop!
If you feel you have the experience and genuinely get amazing satisfaction from helping others, then it might well be for you too! If you would like to discuss joining us as a Business Mentor, then please get in touch for an informal chat.
You may also like to view some of our franchisees video’s talking about their journey to becoming a business mentor.