Monday, 23 March 2015

The Unpaid Mentor

All of us, throughout our lives, have had people that have were a profound influence on us.  Teachers, parents, coaches, friends, colleagues, roll models, these are all the unpaid mentors of our life.  Some we paid more attention to than others and some ….well, we should never have listened to at all.
In the business world, a mentor is considered a priceless addition to your business and guaranteed to bring results.  The line which is often trotted out (usually by professional mentors themselves) is that the cost of using a paid mentor must be “high enough to hurt” so that you will definitely follow through on your mentor’s recommendations and not waste your time.  I can see the logic, but I have to say what a load of dishwater.
Don't get me wrong, I think a professional coach or mentor is a valuable addition to your business team and definitely something every business owner should invest in  to grow (themselves and) their business.  However, when you have a fledgling business, funds are tight.  More often than not, most people are so busy trying to bring in enough money to get themselves established that there is not a lot left over to go towards the expense of mentors and coaches.  Yet, most people know they need someone with expertise to help them, get where they want to go, a bit quicker.
So where do you go to tap into some great advice and learn great processes without a huge outlay?  What some of us forget, is that there are sometimes some great role models around us, right under our noses, that we can talk to, emulate and ask advice of.
For me, when I started my business I soon discovered I had a wealth of people around me that I could tap into for expertise and usually it came at no more than the cost of a cup of coffee.
I’m lucky enough to work with some pretty dynamic clients, many of them very entrepreneurial and I’ve learnt from them to aim high and have vision.  I also have a close friend who has been successfully, self employed since her early twenties, so she was a great source of information on how to manage the day to day banalities of running a business, the things I needed to watch out for and how to make sure I stayed in business.  I make sure I watch people whose marketing style I like and who have walked the path ahead of me.  Someone who has been in business longer than you have, almost certainly has some great advice to share.
I’ve also studied people in the most unlikely places.  For example, there is mum at my children’s school who likes be involved in various committees and projects.  She nearly always put her hand up to be a classroom parent/teacher liaison and often single handedly manages fundraisers for the school.  What I admire about this lady is her ability to handle people.  She effortlessly smoothes ruffled feathers, unites the most unlikely people, always takes a polite interest in people around her in general and most importantly, gets the job done.  She could teach a masterclass in emotional intelligence.

If you can’t afford that professional mentor yet, take a look around you and be a student of those you admire.  Ask questions and learn.  Tap into those unpaid mentors and get the results you want.  Sometimes learning is FREE!

The Exceptional Assistant


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