About 18 months ago I was on my knees and so was my business. It's not that I had too little work and we were going down the toilet. Rather I had plenty but I was disorganised, chaotic and struggling to handle it. Things were very reactive rather than proactive and I would lurch from quiet periods of inactivity to periods where I was flat out and exhausted. I never seemed to get the balance right.
To be honest, after the Christmas rush was over and I was beyond knackered, I seriously considered shutting up shop for good. My kids were saying who are you, my partner had virtually forgotten my name and home was literally a place where I slept for a few hours before starting the whole exhausting process all over again. I just didn't see a way out and how I would ever get regularity in the business, working on it, not in it all the time. And get a life too!
Fortunately for me, I met Nasser from Business Pulse at around the same time, took a leap of faith and asked for his help. I am really glad I did - since working with a mentor I have gone from being a one-man band, home-based business to having commercial premises, some excellent people on board and a growing turnover.
And there are plenty of reasons why you should consider a business mentor too:
They'll tell it like it is
It's hard to take an objective view of your business when you spend all your time working in it. My business was like my third baby - needing constant attention and sucking the life out of me but, unlike my real babies, it showed no signs of growing up. A business mentor, however, is one step removed so they'll give you some tough love.
They can look at your business in an objective fashion and tell you what you can't see. They'll advise you on what is going well and what needs to change. Don't expect them to pull any punches - if they're worth their salt they'll be honest about what is achievable and the courses of action you could take.
They're like a business therapist
It's hard knowing what to do in business sometimes, particularly if you're a one-man band. Unlike in a larger company where you might have a team to throw ideas around with and discuss stuff, you're often dealing with issues on your own. But a business mentor can act as a sounding board for you, even with unfiltered stuff that you wouldn't dare mention to anyone else for fear of sounding like an idiot. As they're highly experienced they may be able to offer an alternative view and get you to think about a problem in a different way.
The great thing about this is it can take the pressure off you a little as you grow, or at least give you have an outlet for it when things get tough.
They'll help you set boundaries and targets
It's tough being an entrepreneur and finding the self-motivation sometimes. My dad died earlier this year and since then, I have definitely had a "So what?" attitude to my business at times. Not great when you're trying to grow it and move forward!
Thankfully Nass has been with me along the way comforting, cajoling and advising me when I needed it but also helping to set targets to aim for and kickstart that growth. And that's the great thing about mentors - they will help you sort out your priorities and sharpen your focus in a way that is much more effective than if you try doing it on your own.
They'll hold your hand a little but they'll empower you a lot
A good business mentor won't tell you what to do but they will guide you. After all, it's your business and although they can advise you, ultimately any decisions you make are your own. Don't expect your mentor to take over the difficult choices you have to make. They'll support you but at the end of the day it's down to you.
This is no bad thing because you can't rely on your mentor forever. At some point you have to swallow down your fears, grab your business by the balls and go for it. And I think that's exactly what my business mentor has done for me!
Written by Fay Millar
To find out more about Business Pulse please visit - https://www.businesspulse.org.uk/