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Why you should consider having a business mentor

How a business mentor can help your SMB succeed | Prospa NZ
Good mentorship is important in every business, but perhaps even more so in the world of small business.

The connection and guidance gained from a business mentor might be exactly what you need to take your business to the next level and navigate the unchartered waters of COVID-19.

A business mentor can help you succeed

Sarah Trotman, Chief Executive of Business Mentors New Zealand, believes business owners don’t need to solve all their problems on their own.

“When a business experiences huge change, which the majority of businesses now have due to COVID-19, it’s very important they seek a mentor who can guide them through. We currently have a sea of business owners who are navigating troubled waters that they’ve never experienced before,” she says.

Trotman strongly believes every small business owner should have a business mentor.

“If you don’t, I’d ask if you are challenging yourself to be the best business owner you can be. Do you really have all the answers?”

You can either face challenges with your eyes wide open or ignore them and hope they’ll go away. And the latter, she says, rarely happens. Business owners can tap into their mentors’ knowledge about any number of things, like cash flow, forecasting, governance, marketing, growth targets, potential partnerships, the list goes on.

Whatever you’re seeking their counsel on, what matters is finding someone who will give it to you straight.

“Friends and families can provide some support, but a mentor can give you impartial guidance on what the best next steps might be. Friends and family mean well and do play a part in supporting owners, but they often don’t call a spade a spade.”

Beating whatever life throws at you

Having the support of a mentor has seen High Country Salmon Director and Part-Owner, Margaret Logan, through enormous challenges in her professional and personal life.

The family business was established in 2000 by Logan and her husband Richard. Following Richard’s death in 2012, Logan’s son, Peter, took over as General Director. But Logan felt it needed more solid governance, budgeting and reporting practices.

“The business itself was going quite well, but setting and reviewing budgets, and getting regular reports to directors and shareholders needed to become part of the structure,” says Logan.

She needed some impartial, external advice. Business Mentors New Zealand put her in touch with Rocky Douché.

For 28 years, Douché was the owner of a large recording studio complex. He has since mentored other business owners. Douché advised Logan on how to implement strong reporting and governance processes in her business.

“Being in business can be quite lonely, particularly if it’s a small business,” says Douché. “If a reporting or governance issue had arisen in Margaret’s business, she would have been vulnerable as a director. When you have a client who takes your advice and the business grows, you’re helping to turn somebody’s life around – it’s very satisfying. What you give out comes back to you.”

Logan has always appreciated Douché’s advice.

“Rocky knew what he was talking about and where I was coming from,” she says. “It’s not always easy to make change, and he gave me the support and confidence to do what needed to be done.”

In addition to helping Logan set and review budgets, and get regular reports to directors and shareholders, Douché also helped her to consider the bigger picture.

“He had me work out what my personal and business goals were, and what we needed to change with some of our governance practices,” she says.

A fresh set of eyes

Having that external support was even more critical when Logan’s son tragically died in an accident.

That brought further changes to the farm and Douché supported Logan considerably as she faced the urgent need to appoint new management.

Her daughter leapt into the fray to take on the financial side of things, and a skilled manager was hired to look after the salmon farm.

Like so many businesses, High Country Salmon also took a hit when COVID-19 struck. Although the business wasn’t entirely reliant on tourism, it was a big part of its income, so more changes needed to be made as a result. Douché and Logan have continued to stay in touch during this period, and the business continues to keep its head above water.

Logan says: “I certainly would recommend every business owner get a mentor. You’ll get the confidence and knowledge to move in a different direction if you need to. You might be bogged down in seeing things from your own perspective. A mentor can provide a fresh set of eyes.”

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