When looking for a mentor, find someone in a business just like yours or someone who is running a business that you want your company to resemble. Often, when you emulate other businesses, you will have the same or similar success.
Frequently, too, when you train with someone better than you, you will become better yourself. Take, for instance, Tiger Woods, tennis pros, and trainers around the world who train the brightest and biggest stars in sports. Just because we view them as the best does not mean they are not trying to get better. With coaching, the best can get better.
Mentoring game plan
Find someone whose footsteps you can walk in and who will allow you to learn from first-hand experience. The times when I viewed other people in my business performing at much higher levels than I was have been among my greatest experiences. To see what they were and were not doing, and to realize how and why I was being held back and what I needed to do to get to the next level, were highly instructive.
Mentors can offer many things to help you grow your business. Make sure the one you choose can help you with advertising, marketing and sales support initiatives. The mentor should also be able offer guidance on how and when to grow staff, and who should train new hires. A mentor should not only help you with your personal business, but also with the business of running your business.
Being a personal producer in the financial services industry, I realize one thing: I don’t want to be a manager or a trainer of staff. My job is to invest money and help people with financial planning issues, and that’s all I do. Everything else is outsourced to others, including the training of those people. That said, I do make sure these key individuals are properly trained before they’re allowed to train others.
McDonaldizing the process
Follow someone who has a proven track record and can show you how to do what they do–something that can be McDonaldized (repeated for success). Brian Tracey, my mentoring coach, once told me long ago that he went to the wealthiest neighborhoods and knocked on each door to find out what people did for a living. Many middle-aged parents were at home watching their children or washing their cars. Brian wondered how all these people with their big homes made their money.