What is mentoring?
Mentoring is most often defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) supports and encourages people to develop specific skills and knowledge that will maximise their business potential, develop their skills, and improve their performance. In short, it is the transfer of knowledge, skills and experience. The mentor acts as a guide to find the right direction and develop solutions.
Why does my business need a professional mentor service?
Being in business can be an extremely lonely place and can drag you down. You try and figure things out for yourself, observing what others are doing in the market place, and you then try and emulate them. Sometimes you might not understand why they are doing certain things and you may be modelling yourself on the wrong person.
Having a professional who understands your business needs, means you have somebody to bounce ideas off and share their insights. They can also identify quickly where things are going wrong. Using the services of a business mentor/consultant/coach helps you to fast track your success.
We can make it more enjoyable and successful, which means you’re achieving far greater results, improving your income and having more time to spend on your business.
How often will I meet with my mentor?
During your first or second meeting you and your mentor will usually set and agree goals or objectives that you want to accomplish. Meeting frequencies and formats will be agreed between you so that your action steps can be supported and you have access to your sounding board when you need it.
How long do I have my mentor for?
The term of your relationship with a mentor depends on the goals and objectives that you agree on. You are not roped into a long-term contract.
What will the mentor do?
Your mentoring will be tailored to suit your individual needs so it’s hard to be specific. In general terms we will firstly work with you to conduct a confidential business assessment and define your mentoring requirements and objectives. Using this assessment we will develop an agreed action plan with you and then work with you to implement the plan.
Will he get me more customers?
We can only help you increase your customer base by setting out a clear plan and objective.
This is an area that I successfully specialise in and there are several ways you can do this without costing you any money. Here are a few samples to get you started:
- Pick a niche market – you have to specialise in what you do. Unique selling point is key!
- Have a clear marketing message – your customers are only interested in results that will improve their lives.
- Have several lead generating systems – if you are relying on just one or two systems e.g. business networking meetings, referrals, leaflet drops then add to your business as many other ways as possible so that you make it easier for your potential customers to find you.
- Online is certainly the way forward. You must be online!
There are many more so contact us today – Take action now, don’t leave it till later.
How can I expect my mentor to work alongside me?
Depending on your challenges and circumstances you can expect your mentor to do some or all of the following:
- Facilitate growth by sharing resources and networks
- Challenge you to move beyond your comfort zone
- Create a safe learning environment for taking risks
- Assist with the implementation of any training that you do into your business
- Share knowledge and life experiences
- Provide guidance and advice
- Inspire and offer encouragement
- Be genuinely interested in questions and concerns
- Be open and honest
- Discuss goal setting
- Support the implementation of business knowledge and skill
Can you help with my cash flow?
When you ask any SME owner/operator what the biggest issue they face is, you will most likely get a reply along the lines of ‘Cash-flow is a pain!’
Start-ups are often so focused on receiving funding, getting their name out there and making sales that they think the money will just flow in and everything will work out once they sell the first few units of what they have on offer. What most people fail to understand is that being acknowledged by the market is just the first turn of the wheel, subsequent motion won’t happen without well managed processes and controls with a cash-flow management system.
Having a well thought out and structured plan on cash-flow management is almost as vital as marketing your product and making sales. If you do not have well outlined rules in place, you are bound to get taken for a ride by those you supply. Of course you don’t have to worry about just the accounts receivable, the accounts payable is going to need to be well managed too. Your payments need to be timed and measured so that you yourself do not become an unreliable customer and employer.
Here are my 5 focus points for cash flow management:
- Review your past cash-flows and break them down into their monthly periods. If you have been operating for 3+ years you may be able to discern a pattern between months. Achieving this allows you to forecast what may happen in the coming months and allow you to create a plan to smooth out any bumps. Consistent, predictable cash flow is your friend.
- Assess your systems and processes. Many SMEs have a poor process regarding invoicing, storing data, reviewing invoices sent by suppliers and tracking receivables!
It is important to be on top of all of these things otherwise you are just asking to be paid late, miss receivables and will not be able to assess your monthly cash-flows accurately.
- Attempt to get your receivables in earlier and your payables out later. Manage the relationship with your debtors, make sure you know what their business is about, set your credit plan at the beginning of your relationship, if an existing client is not abiding by your current arrangement then request to sit down and create a new credit plan, offer payment plans to those that are consistently late (better to have some cash than none at any stage). Lastly, if customers do default on their payments, chase the debt early or risk receiving nothing.
In terms of accounts payable, I’m not saying that you should be a debtor that you would not want to deal with yourself. You should however try and extend your creditors arrangements as much as possible, especially if they are a large company. That said, always make your payments within your credit plan so that you may use this as leverage if you hit a tough month or two.
- Manage the relationship with your bank well. I’ve talked a lot about accounts payable in terms of other businesses, however, the bank is your most important creditor. Being transparent with the bank in your plan and during the execution can be what saves you from going under. If they see that you have your cash flow forecasts and business plan in order, they’re much more likely to allow an extended payment or, if you have an overdraft account, increase how much you can overdraft. You should always communicate with your bank how on track you are to make payments as they do not enjoy being surprised with late payments/defaults.
- Lastly, you need to make it a quick and easy process for customers to pay you. Using cheques is outdated and a waste of time in this day and age. Allow for payments by EFTs and credit cards and state your bank details on the invoices.
I don’t believe I can stress enough how important cash flow management is, and due to it being done poorly, many great and profitable businesses close their doors. This section is for those owners that are still caught in the cycle of managing their own finances, but really you should look to hiring a financial advisor. Cash flow management is second nature to those in the know and can leave you to seriously work on improving growth within your business.
What are the benefits of mentoring?
Business mentoring offers many benefits. Participating in a mentoring relationship offers the following:
- Enhanced strategic business initiatives
- Improved productivity
- The elevation of knowledge transfer from just getting information to the retaining of practical experience and wisdom
- Critical feedback in key areas, such as communications, interpersonal relationships, technical abilities, change management and leadership skills
- A sharper focus on what is needed to grow professionally
- The acquisition of specific skills and knowledge that are relevant to personal goals
- Access to a friendly ear with which to share frustrations as well as successes
- Better understanding of your overheads and cost structures.
What is the one thing I can do right now to improve my business?
Firstly you need to ask your customers what they want and need.
Listen to them. Ask your customers, what could you do differently? Even better, ask past customers – people that for some reason stopped buying from you. In this way you will learn exactly what your customers want, and what you can help them with.
Increase your customers’ perception of value. Value is not the same as price. It’s not about dropping your price, it’s about adding more value for your customers.