Mar 142013

What is a mentor?

mentor“A mentor is an individual, usually older, always more experienced, who helps and guides another individual’s development. Mentoring is a process that always involves communication usually face to face for a prolonged period of time.”

I have a broader definition of a mentor which includes the above AND the fact that a mentor can be someone who you aspire to be like who is unreachable — for now. If you hold an intention and take action to meet them you will. I did. If you read my blog post then you’ll know that Jack Canfield was one of mine. In the 70s when I taught school I bought his book 100 Ways to Enhance Self Concept in the Classroom and used it — a lot. I met him in 1991, went to his seminar in 1992, had him speak in Toronto that same year and now he’s become a colleague who takes my calls :-)

Why do you need a mentor?

That’s easy. When you start a business besides taking courses and reading books about it, it’s good to have someone who’s “been there and done that”. In other words they’re someone with experience doing what you do – starting and running a business.

Difference between a mentor and a coach

A lot of businesses call what they do mentoring but what they do is actually consulting, coaching or training all of which are kinds of mentoring but don’t adhere to the definition above. A mentor doesn’t have formal training on how to be a mentor. S/he has experience and knowledge to share and a true desire for you to be successful and are willing to spend time with you over an extended period and answer any questions you have AND they don’t charge you for their time (okay you might buy them a coffee).

What is a business mentor?

They have a business and continue to run it. What they offer is their experience and expertise on how THEY run and grow their business.

They may not be in the same industry but they have a business whose needs and structure are close to yours. For example, when we had the computer dealership in the 80s my partner and I chose one of our customers. He owned a car dealership. He sold new cars – we sold new computers. He had a service department and we did too. And all we paid for his expertise was an occasional coffee. He gave us his time and experientIal knowledge for free.

Where and how do you find a mentor?

There are many ways and places to find them. Look around. Who do you interact with regularly? Some are organizations that match you up but the most important thing every entrepreneur knows is that you have to ask for what you want. The following are ways and places to find a mentor. They may be anywhere. Be creative :-)

  • formal businesses that are set up to do mentoring
  • networking
  • a client (as we did. See my example above.)
  • a neighbour
  • someone at your church or the parent of one of your children

It’s important to know these things when you meet someone who you think could become your mentor.

  • treat it like you do a first date
  • be sure you and your mentor “click”
  • be sure you’re comfortable sharing sensitive business information
  • know your time requirements and ask if they can meet them
  • ask “tough”questions now to be sure they can help you and your business

When I was writing this my friend Wenda Abel of bizbrilliant sent me a few. Here are two of them – one from Entrepreneur magazine and the other from The Financial Post Toronto. Check them out. Wenda knows a lot about mentoring and her company does only that – connects the right mentor with the right mentee.

Do you have a mentor? Do you want one? Did you have one? Tell us about your experience.

photo credit: Cristian Bernal | townhero via photopin cc

 March 14, 2013  Posted by  Mentor Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Jan 272012

This is the first post on 8 actions to take for your startup business. The very first thing to do is to find a mentor.

pinterestWhat is a mentor?

Many people have them in their jobs – someone experienced and trustworthy who already does the job one aspires to. I’d add wise. My Oxford dictionary defines wise as “… having … or showing experience and knowledge judiciously applied; sagacious … sensible; discreet …”

In business the same thing applies – have a mentor.

Kinds of mentors

1. Unreachable (for now) but someone who you aspire to be like. Use Oprah as an example. You may want to be like her – a successful and well known business woman who does everything with integrity. You would like to meet her but assume you’re too “unknown” for her (for now).

2. Someone nearby who you could contact. The TV show “The View” today had each of the hosts talking with their mentor. That person followed them through the years, always believed in them and their dream, gave them advice in a kind and gentle way, helped them up when they were down, and felt pride (and showed it) in each accomplishment along their path.

Qualities of a mentor

Believe you can do it and tell you to your face
Someone you aspire to be like
Gives you advice in a kind and gentle way


You really need a mentor when you have a startup business. I aspired to be like Mark Victor Hansen for marketing and Jack Canfield for self esteem. They’re remembered best as co-authors of the Chicken Soup book series. In 1982 I met each of them. They each helped me in their own ways and today if I call they call back.

That’s what a mentor is. Do YOU have one yet? Who did you choose?

 January 27, 2012  Posted by  Mentor, Startup Business Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »