I've had a paid business mentor for a few years now. Deciding to join a mentoring programme significantly changed my life.
It was a time when I and the business were at our lowest. I knew I needed help, but I didn't know where to start. So I was spending a lot of time watching webinars in a last-ditch effort to climb out of the hole.
I can't remember exactly how I came across this one particular webinar, but I signed up. As I listened, I realised I was fighting a losing battle with the business because I just didn't know enough. I needed one-to-one help with my situation.
After the webinar, I signed up for the mentoring program with Her Business. They sent me a questionnaire about my business and about me. From that questionnaire, they matched me with a mentor who had the experience, the knowledge, and most of all, the patience(!!) to help me.
My mentor, PJ, and I talk about 9 or 10 times a year. It's dedicated time for me to discuss where the business is at and where I want it to go. PJ is my reality check. He's the voice of reason when I'm flailing. He doesn't accept excuses and will always, very nicely, call me on my BS. And his advice and wisdom are a major part of the reason why Sohovian exists today.
Why you should pay for your mentoring
Do you sometimes think there is a certain cringe factor when it comes to paid mentorship programmes? I certainly get that feeling when speaking with other people about it. This could be founded on a belief that mentors are meant to be altruistic, with only the best intentions for their protege. Sometimes this couldn't be further from the truth. Beware the person who seeks you out, wanting to become your mentor! And why shouldn't someone be paid for helping another person to become successful? Aren't employees paid to help the business they work for to become more successful? Even school teachers are paid to teach their pupils.
It's one thing to have mentors in your life who help you with the odd question, here and there. You can't beat the in-depth, ongoing continuity that a paid mentoring programme provides. When you're building your business with the help of a formal mentoring programme, you're working towards a goal, not just putting out bushfires.
I believe that because I pay for it, I am more committed to the sessions than I ever would be if this were an arrangement between friends. There's a certain discipline that's necessary when you have an arrangement like this.
Our sessions are scheduled into our calendars, up to 2 months in advance. We meet over Skype and when we do, it's straight down to business. There is the mutual understanding that for both of us, our time is valuable, so we don't waste it with ordering coffees or making small talk. We start and finish on time, every time.
Where to go
I can't say enough about the Her Business programme because it's really been my lifeline. But there are other paid, and unpaid, programmes out there. Many professional associations ,and government agencies run dedicated mentoring programmes for business owners. Some of the government-run programmes can be accessed on scholarships too. It's worthwhile checking with your local council too, as quite often they will run programmes for business in their area.
So the question is not whether you can afford to get a paid mentor. The question has to be: How long can you afford not to have a paid mentor?