That was the response I gave to a recent question about why I continue to invest in a mentor.
I have had a mentor both in business and in life off and on over the years. Different mentors for different stages. I did have a period of time back in the early ’90s when I set up my first business that I forged ahead without a mentor. My business barely struggled along. While I had a great deal of passion, I had very limited knowledge about how to run a business. I also had a very young family so I was time poor. When the opportunity came to move to the United States with my husband’s work, I was quite relieved to close the business doors.
A few years later, my business reopened and I was also teaching in the same field at TAFE. This time I had a wonderful mentor who was in the same profession, but with a number of years’ experience behind him. I could not believe the difference it made. I suddenly understood the enormous value to be found in having a mentor.
A couple of decades have gone by since that time and I’ve had a significant shift in my career. There have been many changes, but what hasn’t changed is the value I place on having a mentor to offer support. My good friend and mentor who was with me for at least a decade sadly passed away. The loss was substantial.
My mentor worked with me not only in regards to my professional life, he was also a huge support as I navigated the not so easy path of establishing an international charity. He was brilliant when it came to understanding the stringent guidelines associated with a not for profit.
I have had other mentors in my life, some had been running their own business for many years, some were related to me, but none had the actual experience and knowledge to help me. As I mentioned, my mentor’s loss was felt deeply.
For a year or two after he passed, I plodded on alone. I had now been in business for many years and wondered if I needed another mentor. I was actually a mentor myself — did the mentor need a mentor? Yes, she did.
While I had completed an MBA and I had work and life experience, there were aspects of my business that were in real need of support and I didn’t have the knowledge to grow it, particularly in marketing. I needed someone who had the experience that I didn’t to mentor me.
It took me a while, I’m the first to admit I was fussy and I wanted someone with the experience I lacked in the areas I needed. Eventually, I did find another mentor via HerBusiness and we’ve worked together for a while now. I have not only benefited from his experience, but also from the guidance of just how to build my own knowledge via professional development in the areas that I need. I know I’m one of a large chorus singing the virtues of mentoring. There is a reason for that — it works.
I do highly recommend mentoring. Ask yourself, do you really want to go it alone?