Living in the digital age means that running a competitive business can be more of a challenge than ever before – especially given the fast-evolving nature of today’s markets. Today, as Scott Dylan knowns, running your own business requires a combination of hard and soft skills – skills that twist, turn, and need constant professional development to hone. There’s always more to learn, which is why hiring a mentor provides the perfect opportunity to step up your business.
Not only can a mentor help you to access opportunities that you may not otherwise have found, but they can also help you to improve your confidence and support you on your way to ambitious goals. None of us will reach our full potential alone – input from others helps us to visualise different perspectives, which we can integrate into well-rounded business solutions.
Here, Scott Dylan, entrepreneurial mentor and founder of the private equity disruptor Fresh Thinking Group (FTG), shares his top 10 things to look for in a great mentor.
What Makes A Good Mentor?
Scott Dylan explains that a good mentor will:
- Expand your knowledge and resources, which will help you to become more efficient, make strategic decisions, and run effective marketing campaigns to generate good-fit leads.
- Identify areas for improvement and help you to target these areas to improve your business performance. These are likely to be areas that you are blind to.
- Ask thought-provoking questions to help you identify the direction you would like to take your business, stimulating your professional and personal growth.
- Offer encouragement when the going gets tough. Your mentor’s enthusiasm and belief in your business will give you the confidence and positivity that you need to move forward.
- Help you to develop good work habits and sharpen your work ethic so that you can prioritise effectively and stay on-focus, even at the most stressful of times.
- Listen when you need to bounce ideas back and forth, offering honest opinions to help you reach the best solutions. Good mentors are good listeners – they are patient and will carefully consider all your concerns and questions.
- Act as a trusted advisor, which is especially ideal when you have no-one else to turn to with intellectual property or proprietary information. They will provide honest insights in frank, transparent conversations, and offer constructive criticism to help you grow as an entrepreneur.
- Connect you with other industry players who may invest in your business, offer their expertise and skills, introduce you to further talent, or help you to reach your target audience.
- Take a personal interest in your business. They will take time to get to know you as a person and understand how you think and act. When your mentor understands your passions and goals, they are better placed to act as an effective teacher and mentor you with your best interests at heart.
- Take pride in their mentorship – a good mentor will be proud of how they have helped you to develop your business, which will motivate them to thoroughly invest themselves in your success.
Keep in mind that many mentors assist others for free – they often meet their mentees organically and enjoy helping an entrepreneur who is following a similar journey to them. As these mentees become more experienced, they are likely to return the favour by mentoring other entrepreneurs further down the line.
But you shouldn’t simply ask someone to be your mentor, just as you wouldn’t straight up ask someone to be your friend. Finding a mentor is about naturally developing a relationship with the right person (or people). It’s about networking and surrounding yourself with the people who inspire you, people who are more experienced or knowledgeable than you in the areas that you’d like to develop.
However, there are paid mentorship opportunities out there for those who are looking for more of a business arrangement when it comes to seeking a mentor.
How to Find a Mentor
Before looking for a mentor, it’s a good idea to identify exactly what it is you want your mentor to help you achieve. You’re more likely to achieve your goals if you know where you’re heading. However, you don’t necessarily need to have exact expectations – a general directional path can be enough, and your mentor should be able to plot further goals with you. If you’re not sure what you’d like to achieve, think about how you’d like to see yourself in five years, your role models, and any skillsets that you’d like to acquire.
Remember that you don’t have to commit to anyone as a mentor straight away; you can follow candidates on social media channels and perhaps have an exploratory chat or two before making any decisions about who you will spend more time with. You may not even have to look particularly far – your existing professional network can be a great place to start. And you might not need to choose someone older and therefore ‘more experienced’. Peer mentoring can be equally as helpful.
If you think that you could benefit from the support detailed in this article, a mentor may be exactly what you need to develop and grow your business, help you progress through your entrepreneurial journey, or push you to support your team in the workplace. Not only is a good mentor motivated and energised, but they’ll make you feel motivated and energised, too. Tapping into an expert’s wealth of knowledge is virtually always a fantastic way to step up your services and/or business approach.
And a final note – don’t ever think that seeking help from a mentor is a sign of weakness. Seeking mentorship is a sign that you are success-driven and looking for ways to further your skills.
For more business advice and guidance on mental health in the workplace, visit Scott Dylan’s blog.
About Scott Dylan
As the founder and key partner of the leading capital investment business Fresh Thinking Group, Scott Dylan is an established software developer and investor. He acquires and provides funding for companies in need of support on behalf of FTG and works with these companies’ existing teams to plot future-proofed success methodologies. Scott helps each of the businesses under the FTG umbrella to work together and benefit from shared top-level functions. His people-centred approach to business success allows teams to blend their skills and develop the newest strategies in tech and software.
Primarily, FTG acquires healthy businesses looking for growth strategies, distressed companies looking for financial support, and start-ups looking for guidance to accelerate market penetration in hard-to-reach areas. Since its launch in 2018, FTG has grown rapidly and already has offices in Manchester, Leeds, and London. Some of FTG’s acquisitions include the on-demand laundry service Laundrapp, creative agency Brass, digital marketing agency Neon, app creator Cuhu, and leading logistics companies such as ParcelWise and GLB Transport. Outside of FTG, Scott has also worked with his partners to fund additional sector-specific groups, including Orb Group, Inc & Co Group, and Inc & Co Property Group.