When it comes to good business advice, there’s no such thing as too much. For many entrepreneurs, during the startup stage of their business, a mentor is a crucial part of the process.
Mentors can be your sounding board for a number of areas. When you need to talk through setting SMART targets, overcome obstacles, or just having someone there when you need to vent, your mentor is there for you.
You and your business will thrive from having a mentorship resource of support. In fact, having more than one mentor certainly worked in my favor when I started my business.
Be greedy, not needy
Having access to multiple mentors has been of great help to me! Getting a business off the ground requires a number of different skills. And access to various skills and knowledge will not always be available in one mentor alone.
I also found that I needed the advice and support of different people at different times during my business. As business increased and I sought to refresh my five year business plan, the expertise of my original mentor was spot on for strategic planning and growth, but when I needed help with marketing and social media strategy I needed to look elsewhere.
At first, I felt a bit disloyal. I considered that I should stick with the one person who steered me in the right direction from the start, but as my original mentor pointed out, each mentor has his or her own unique contribution to make. As business became more complex, it was absolutely okay to bring in more specialist support.
In the same way, a second or third mentor would offer many benefits. It was like having my own small board of informal directors.
The availability factor
A considerable benefit of having multiple mentors is accessibility. When I wanted to speak to someone at a critical time, there were at least one or two other people who were available if the other wasn’t. (Word gets around if you do have a great business mentor so the demand on their time grows.)
My company deals with a number of overseas contracts. There would be times when work would build up and it became difficult to prioritize. While my mentors did not “do the work” for me, talking it through helped me decide what to accept and what to turn down.
Having more than one pair of eyes (and ears) meant that any decisions I made were reasoned ones. My mentors had aided in the evaluation process which alleviated a ton of pressure. Working with a handful of mentors also cultivated my assertiveness, which has stood me in good stead several times since then.
Been there, done that
One of my mentors was a former co-worker who had left corporate several years before me and was now working from home. Having the opportunity to talk through obstacles she faced meant that, when I encountered similar problems I knew how to deal with them.
Also, having a mentor who had worked on an international level and who could give advice around logistics, invoicing and payment in another currency was invaluable.
As I increased my mentors it meant the likelihood that one or more of them had faced similar challenges also increased, which was very reassuring.
Career and business development
I had to step it up if I wanted to be taken seriously in business. I needed to present myself and my company in a certain light. Having a mentor I could talk through the process with beforehand was very beneficial.
It also gave me confidence to walk through the doors of meetings and get the responses I wanted. For example, I discussed presentation techniques with one mentor and carried out a practice meeting with the second, so it was really beneficial to bounce ideas off of various mentors.
Variety is the spice of life
In creative industries there are many different areas in which you can branch out and develop. Having access to diverse mentors with a range of experience in business has been a springboard for my company.
Talking through a specific area of business with more than one person has given me an objective overview. My mentors have also opened my eyes to considering new areas of diversification; ways I wouldn’t have thought about because I was always in “head down, get the work completed” mode.
A final benefit of having several mentors? They have helped to keep me focused and energized, particularly when times were tough, which means that my business goes the same way!
This article has been edited.
Emilly Hadrill is the owner of Emilly Hadrill Hair & Extensions, a company that specialises in hair and hair extensions. With multiple locations across Australia, including the Gold Coast, Melbourne, and Brisbane, Emilly knows she is fortunate to have had the right guidance in growing her business, and remains as passionate about providing quality hair related products and services today as the day she started her business. Connect with Emilly on LinkedIn.