What is a Business Mentor for Startups anyway? Discover how Scaling Partners’ startup mentorship programs could help you grow.
It’s lonely at the top. CEO mentoring with Scaling Partners can:
● Help you grow personally, to the benefit of the business
● Challenge your thinking (and help you develop better answers)
● Give you perspective
● Give you a safe space to share ideas and fears
● Keep you on track
Mentoring with Scaling Partners
There’s no playbook for growing a business. But you can learn an awful lot (and avoid some painful pitfalls) when you work with someone who’s already been there and done that. We’ll pair you with mentors who understand your industry and your role.
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Why work with a business mentor for startups?
You have a way of working. It’s pretty successful. After all, it’s brought you this far. But always there’s that feeling of you ‘don’t know what you don’t know’. And when you’re working to scale a business, there’ll be lots you encounter for the first time.
Startup mentorship programs with Scaling Partners help you explore those unknowns. They enable you to face them with expertise and experience by your side. They help you to be better equipped to face the unfamiliar.
What are the benefits of business mentoring programs?
Scaling Partners’ mentors are business consultants for startups and their CEOs. Being the CEO of a company can feel lonely an exposed at times, so our support can be invaluable. We’ll help to:
● Grow personally, addressing the issues that can help you be better at what you do – whether that’s learning to become more detached, to delegate more (or better) or to build personal resilience
● Challenge your thinking (and help you develop better answers) – so you see the business from different angles and aren’t lulled into a false sense of security
● Give you perspective – from someone who isn’t immersed in the business
● Give you a safe space to share ideas and fears without fear of feeling exposed or showing weakness to peers and subordinates
● Keep you on track and challenge you when your thinking doesn’t add up or your plans need more development
Is mentoring right for you?
To get the most out of mentoring you’ll need to be willing to commit to it. In our experience, the CEOs that possess the following traits will enjoy a hugely rewarding experience with our startup business mentors:
Be responsible for the process: Small business mentorship programs work best when you don’t expect the mentor to do all the heavy lifting. Mentoring is reactive. You bring the issues on which you’ll focus.
Willing to explore the new: Mentoring isn’t just about affirming the way you operate now – it’s about exploring new ways that could yield better/different results. Mentees are willing to experiment.
Be self-disciplined: It’s a given that as a CEO you will have the work ethic to engage with the process, but you’ll also need the self-discipline to commit to exploring new ways of working, rather than reverting to the tried and tested when things get challenging. That might mean people around you have to get used to a slightly different dynamic too.
Step beyond the comfort zone: By definition, stepping beyond your comfort zone is… uncomfortable. You need to be willing to accept and endure that until your zone expands.
Ask for help: Working with a business advisor for startups only works if a) you share with them the goals you would like to work towards and b) you share those goals with others too. Your top team, partners and others have the potential to help you grow if you’re willing to (appropriately) engage them in the process.
What business mentor do you need?
You don’t necessarily need a mentor who knows your industry inside out – that’s the role of a coach. But as a startup it’s important to choose a mentor familiar with your world and the challenges you face. Scaling, exploring new markets, fundraising: whilst they are all issues that a business of any scale and age may face, they create specific challenges for startups – so it’s important to work with a mentor who fits your level of growth.
With a long track record of starting and scaling businesses, Scaling Partners are the natural business consultants for startups.
What will a mentor do?
The right business consultants for your startup will:
· Help you reach your personal and corporate goals
· Help you build greater self-awareness of the qualities you’ve mastered and the ones that could be developed
· Get on well with you (because mentoring requires chemistry)
· Focus on your personal rather than technical skills
· Be your champion, support your ambitions and help you reach them (rather than encouraging you to pick some less lofty ambitions)
Why Scaling Partners?
Scaling Partners are business consultants for startups. We’ve ‘been there and done that’ and are veterans of angel investment, international expansion, scaling culture and all the other issues that the CEO of a startup needs to address. We’ll help you address it.
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What are the four main stages of mentoring?
Preparation, negotiation, enabling growth and closure are the four main stages of mentoring. For any startup CEO choosing our small business mentoring services its important to acknowledge that mentoring is a process to commit to and results come from engaging equally with each of the stages. There’s no shortcut to mentoring success.
What are the 3 A’s of mentorship?
Work with a Scaling Partners startup mentor and you’ll find they all practise the 3 A’s of mentorship. But what does that mean? The 3 A’s are availability, acceptance and affirmation. Availability is about being generous with time, because no startup mentorship program can be a success without the mentor’s engagement. Acceptance is a promise to listen, advise and counsel – but never judge. And affirmation is about being on your side. Scaling a startup is hard. A Scaling Partners’ mentor will celebrate every success with you.
What is the role of the mentee?
Mentoring is a partnership. Your mentor will fulfil the 3 A’s from their perspective (see above) but a mentee has responsibilities too. You will engage with the process, taking the initiative in suggesting areas on which to focus and asking for advice on specific topics. You will put your new insight to work. You’ll ask for assignments (and then put in the work to complete them to the timescale you agree). And you will seek and receive feedback constructively.
It’s a huge cliché to say ‘you get out what you put into mentoring’ but it’s also completely true.
What questions to ask a potential mentor
A mentor/mentee relationship is a personal one. To work, you need to know you and your mentor will be a good fit. So before you choose the business mentor for your startup, ask them:
· What’s your experience/track record? You want to know your mentor has stood in your shoes and experienced the sort of challenges you face.
· What are your biggest successes? Note the plural – you need to know your mentor is a serial success, not a one off.
· What will you expect of me? You need to know in advance what your level of involvement will need to be.
· Would you be interested in mentoring me – and why?
What questions to ask a professional mentor
Before each mentoring session, ask yourself what you want to get out of the process. Questioning for questioning’s sake is a waste of everyone’s time. But questions that get to the core of what you need to do more of/less of or do differently can help you make the changes that lead to being a better CEO.
Here are 6 questions to get your business mentoring program off on the right foot:
· What’s the most important thing I can learn from you?
· What should I be doing more of/less of?
· What do you see as my strengths – and how can I make better use of them?
· What do I need to do differently?
· What’s your approach to problem solving?
· What are the opportunities I’m missing?
Coach or mentor – what’s the difference?
The distinction between the two is somewhat artificial. What matters is the advice or guidance you’re looking for – not the label you want to give it. But traditionally a coach is someone a CEO might bring in to help them tackle a specific challenge. They are industry experts, proactive, looking for challenges within a business and helping the CEO find ways to fix them. In some ways, and depending on the level of experience of the person you bring in, there can be overlap between the role of coach and that of a Chief of Staff.
Mentors may not have direct experience in a CEO’s industry, but they have rich experience in business and will be able to use that experience to help a CEO navigate challenges such as new product launches, fundraising, international expansion, building culture and more. Unlike coach, business mentorship programs tend to be reactive, relying on the CEO to raise the issues for the mentor and mentee to address.