Would you drive a car without first taking a driving lesson or workout in a gym without having an induction? Did you ride a bike for the first time without having someone there to watch you?
It’s common sense that beginners need a little guidance before they can become experts. The same rule applies to business. That’s why mentoring is a no-brainer.
Having run a PR & marketing company for more than three decades, I know that business has its ups and downs. It’s been more than two years since I first heard about ViewVo but I have watched the company develop with great interest because its ethos makes complete sense to me. No matter who you are, no matter what your business is, having someone to mentor you could be the difference between success and failure.
That may mean having someone to support you as you make those first tentative steps in your career, or perhaps it might mean having someone to encourage and inspire you later on in your journey. Either way, it’s an enormous asset to have a guiding hand – someone who you can lean and rely on when you need to, and importantly, someone to be accountable to as well.
After all, studies show that people lose more weight and see more progress if they have a buddy. We’re also more likely to stick to a diet if someone else comes along for the ride. Think about it – business is all about networking with other people, and so mentoring is just an extension of that dynamic.
These were the thoughts that went through my mind after Lucy Standing from ViewVo approached me to be a mentor. I’ve had some outstanding work experience candidates over the years, and I’ve been fortunate enough to go on to mentor them in their chosen careers. It’s hugely interesting, but also incredibly rewarding – I often say that I learn as much from my mentee as they learn from me.
Ultimately, mentoring for me is about trying to make a small contribution. Thirty-one years ago, when I set up LGA, I was fortunate to not only have an excellent business adviser, but also two highly experienced PR professionals who took me under their wing. They guided me and gave me precisely the right no-nonsense advice that has stayed with me over the years. Sadly, they are no longer with us, but I’m sure they would be proud that I’ve followed their words of wisdom and have survived so long in an industry that bears no relation to the one I started in, back in the 1980s.
I still have two business mentors I meet up with at least twice a year and it’s reassuring to be able to call them if faced with a decision that is hard to make alone. They offer complementary skills and I’m pleased to call them dear, trusted friends. They’re taking me out for a posh afternoon tea to celebrate my milestone birthday shortly!
If I can offer just one piece of advice to anyone starting out in business, it’s: “Find a mentor who will keep you on the straight and narrow; someone who is inspirational and will help you achieve your aspirations; who will act as a friend who you can laugh with but will also provide a shoulder to cry on as and when needed; and someone to help monitor your progress.”
Guess post by Susan Fleet.
Founder & Managing Director; Lea Graham Associates and a ViewVo mentor.
View Susan’s profile here