What Is a Business Mentor? (With Benefits and Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 4 May 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
A business mentor can be an important role model for someone developing in their business career. The relationship between a mentor in business and their mentee can be a very special one that benefits both parties. Understanding the role of a mentor in business can help you get the most from your relationship and later become an effective mentor. In this article, we explain what a mentor in business is, what these mentors do and list benefits and tips for finding a mentor in business and building a successful mentoring relationship.
What is a business mentor?
The answer to the question 'What is a business mentor?' is that a business mentor is an experienced business professional who helps less experienced people in their careers. Business mentors offer advice and guidance that helps their mentees make career decisions, manage issues and achieve their business goals. They may have a one-on-one relationship with their mentees or be part of a mentorship team. Mentors in the business sectors are often entrepreneurs or experienced business managers. Many had their own mentors and want to share their experience with the next generation of business professionals, as their own mentors did.
What do mentors in business do?
Mentoring relationships are long-term relationships, typically lasting several years. A passion for sharing business experience and helping the next generation of businesspeople succeed inspires them to perform the following duties:
regularly meet with mentees to discuss their careers
listens to mentee's ideas and plans and supports their professional and personal development
answers mentee questions about business topics including tax regulations, recruitment, sales and marketing and business planning
helps mentees set and achieve goals
helps mentees identify professional and personal challenges and issues and minimise their impact
supports mentees during challenging periods
advises mentees about situations they face based on their own experience
introduces mentees to professional contacts who may help them in their careers
Benefits of having a mentor in business
Here are some benefits of forming a relationship with a mentor in business:
They can provide guidance on entrepreneurship
Many people with business mentors are entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs sit at the top of their business hierarchies. Assuming this position can be challenging for people used to the guidance of supervisors and managers. A good business mentor can provide similar guidance if you're starting and developing your own business. They may help you make business decisions and answer the questions you may normally ask superiors.
Related: Be Your Own Boss in 8 Steps
They can share new perspectives
A mentor can help you see a situation from a different, more experienced perspective. Their wisdom gained from years of experience can be beneficial, especially when you're starting out. Throughout your career, a mentor can also provide a more objective perspective on issues you face. Sometimes their unbiased opinions can help you adjust your own outlook and make better choices.
They can be a role model
Mentees typically look up to their mentors. A mentor who is a good role model can inspire you in your career. Understanding their achievements can help you stay motivated and productive.
They can help you grow your career
Mentors encourage their mentees to set goals and achieve them. They may help you move out of your comfort zones, volunteer for new challenges and try new things. Their encouragement can keep you advancing in your career. If you're an entrepreneur, a mentor can also help you grow your business.
Tips for finding a mentor in business
Here are some tips that can help you find your own mentor in business:
Connect with people from your past and present
Many mentoring relationships happen organically between businesspeople and their existing contacts. Consider the people who've made a difference in your life and contact them to see if they might mentor you. Teachers, former and current supervisors and senior colleagues can all make great mentors.
Attend networking events
Networking events are excellent places to meet experienced business people. You can find details of business events on online event websites and industry pages. Consider joining industry associations, as they run exclusive conferences, seminars, workshops and trade events. Start conversations with other attendees and give your business card to people you connect with well. Let them know you're interested in mentorship and gauge their interest.
Search for a mentor online
The internet is an excellent way to connect with mentors at any time of the day or night. Business forums can help you connect with people within your industry. Social media platforms are also valuable resources. Searching with hashtags like '#mentorship' and '#careeradvice' can help you locate quality mentors. When you find posts and profiles from businesspeople who interest and inspire you, send them an instant message explaining you hope to talk about how they've achieved their career goals. The best mentoring sessions often occur face-to-face, so prioritise mentors who live close to you.
Sign up for a mentoring program
Governments, councils and business groups often run business mentor programs that pair businesspeople with mentors. These programs typically organise short-term mentoring arrangements where mentors and mentees meet for a limited number of sessions. If the mentoring relationship goes well, the mentor may keep working with you after the program concludes. Search state and federal government, local council and business group websites for details of business mentorship programs and their application processes.
Benefits of being a mentor in business
The best mentoring partnerships are mutually beneficial for mentees and their mentors. If you're an experienced businessperson, becoming a mentor offers the following benefits:
Helping others feels good
People who help others, as business mentors do, feel good because they're making a positive difference in someone else's life. Mentoring can make people feel happier, calmer and more confident. This activity can add purpose to your life and increase your feelings of self-worth.
It can develop talent for the business
Business mentors guide the development of less experienced businesspeople. If your mentee is an employee at the same company, your guidance can help with the business' succession plan. The knowledge you share can ensure information stays within the business when you retire. Your guidance may also make your mentee someone you could work with in the future.
It can teach you new information
Many mentors say they learn a lot from their mentees. Mentees can bring fresh perspectives to the business world. Their enthusiasm and idealism can also inspire you and help you rediscover your passion for your industry. While the best mentoring sessions focus on helping the mentee, you may share issues in their own careers. When you share, your mentee can practise their problem-solving skills. They might teach you about new technology and techniques that can improve the way you do business.
It can improve your resume
Mentoring experience can make you a more desirable candidate for positions for which you apply. Being a mentor shows you are generous with your time and able to collaborate well with others. Mentoring experience is highly favoured for non-profit positions and community leadership roles.
It leaves a legacy
Mentoring can make retiring from business easier. You know the knowledge and experience you shared is now with your mentees. Staying in contact with them and seeing the influence you have on their careers can help you feel satisfied in your senior years.
Tips for a successful mentoring relationship
Whether you're a mentor or a mentee, these tips can help you get the most out of your mentoring relationship:
Define and meet expectations
The best mentors and mentees discuss their expectations of one another early. This conversation helps them plan their mentoring goals, how frequently to meet, their preferred communication methods and when they can contact one another. Once mentors and mentees define their expectations, it's important to meet them to build trust in the relationship. Mentors and mentees may postpone mentoring sessions only in extenuating circumstances. If they're unavailable for an extended period, they inform the other person of their commitments.
Communicate openly and regularly
Regular, open communication helps a mentoring relationship grow. Honesty helps the mentor and mentee understand one another better. While communicating honestly, both parties try to be tactful to minimise the chance of causing offense. Communication may occur face-to-face or remotely. Good mentors and mentees respond quickly to emails to show they prioritise the relationship.
Track and review regularly
Mentors in business help their mentees move towards goals. Regularly tracking mentee progress and reviewing performance helps mentors and mentees assess their approach. If progress is slow or the mentee rarely reaches goals, they may discuss how they could change their mentoring for better results.
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