Happy National Mentoring Month! All throughout January, we reflect back on the valuable business advice from our mentors.
These messages carry even more meaning in our present COVID-19 landscape. Sage words of wisdom, like the ones from these 20 entrepreneurs, help guide businesses forward and allow us to survive and thrive in the next normal.
“This advice from my mentor sounds ridiculously simple, but it really is what makes the difference. As a business owner, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of doing everything. In reality, very few of your regular activities actually move the needle in your business.
Isolate the activities that move the needle. Focus in on them. Double down on them and improve them. Make these activities what you do at the start of every day.” — Marcus Clarke, Founder, Searchant
2. Hire good people.
“My number one best business advice given by a mentor was to hire the best person, not the skill set. You can train skills, but you can’t train someone to be a good person. He also supported my concept of hiring people who fill in your weaknesses, and not act as your clone.
I’ve weathered many downturns by spending the money to keep the best people. When it does turn around, which it eventually always does, you can hit the ground running without trying to train people and get the work done efficiently at the same time. Focusing on good people has resulted in having two amazing senior people on staff from more than twenty years each!
Sadly, my mentor is no longer available to give me more sage advice. Remembering him by repeating his advice, feels good.” — Leslie Saul, AIA, NCIDQ, LEED AP BD+C, Leslie Saul & Associates
3. Build a network.
“My mentor taught me in college the importance of building a network. This has helped me immensely throughout my career and my personal life.
During COVID-19, I am unable to meet new people face-to-face. Having an established network has been instrumental to the continued growth of my financial practice. As we charge on into 2021, that same network will continue to grow whether virtually or (hopefully) more in-person.” — Todd Bryant, CFP(r), ChFC(r), CLU(r), AIF(r), Founding Partner and Financial Planner, Signature Wealth Advisors, LLC
4. Fix issues quickly.
“One of the best pieces of advice I received from my mentor is to get in front of any issues or possible trouble.
Never sit on your hands hoping a problem will go away. It won’t. It will just fester. And the buck always stops with the business owner.” — Michael A. Dyll, CHB, Chief Executive Officer, Texas International Freight
5. Put profit at the front of mind.
“I own a fast food fish and chip takeaway business and an online blog. My mentor was with me in the early days of building my fast food empire. He was an extremely serious gentleman, loving, kind, and when it came to business — a killer!
He taught me everything I now know when it comes to the bottom line, how to protect it, and why it’s the single biggest point of failure for any small business. The advice he gave me was to always put profit at the front of my mind. It may seem like this is counterintuitive to the old adage that customer service is key. When I asked this of him his response was, without good customer service, there is no profit. I have taken this on board throughout all my business ventures.
It’s not just about saving on costs, upselling, push selling, and squeezing every cent out of every potential angle. You must embody the entire ethos of profit into the very fabric of the business itself.” — Chris Panteli, Founder, LifeUpswing
6. Businesses must expand or contract.
“The best advice that I received from a mentor is that a business always needs to be either expanding or contracting. Standing still is not a logical strategy. If you see an opportunity, you need to expand product lines and staff.
On the other hand, if that opportunity no longer exists, you need to treat the business like a cash cow and downsize expenses to maximize profits. Seems like simple advice, but I always think about it.” — Bob Bentz, President, Advanced Telecom Services
7. Own your expertise.
“Own your expertise is the business advice I’ve received from my current mentor.
Unfortunately, it’s so common for women to struggle with imposter syndrome and doubt their own expertise, even when they know their stuff and have so much value to give. I have seen it with my clients. It’s even something that I see in myself.
Listening to this advice has allowed me to launch several new offers in my businesses. I have built new relationships with amazing women, and in turn help other female entrepreneurs own their expertise and show up confidently for their clients!” — Jordan Schanda King, Business Coach and Mentor, Co-Founder, FEMastermind
8. Be empathetic.
“It has become cliché to say that ‘we are all in this together’ during this horrific pandemic but it is so very true. The best business advice I received from my mentor is that all people crave connections and innately need real and genuine relationships. My mentor has instilled in me the importance of collaboration and the value of investing in your employees.
A relationship is like a garden of flowers that need constant watering and vigilance for the relationship to prosper. Always dedicate proper time and attention to other people. Treat all people with respect and dignity.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. The policies of every company need to be flexible to adjust for the chaotic world in which we live. It is essential to be empathetic towards all people that work within an organization and to be kind and thoughtful towards employees in this stressful and confusing COVID-19 world.” — David Reischer, CEO, LegalAdvice.com
9. Be free to fail.
“The best business advice I received from a mentor is be free to fail. This means maintain the confidence to take risks. Do not be too concerned that the fear of failure may stop you from succeeding.
This is closely followed by the second-best piece of advice which is ‘What could you accomplish if you had nothing to fear?’
I see both statements as closely related. If people had less fear, they would take bigger risks. Consequently, they would accomplish so much more both in business and in their personal lives. By keeping these maxims in my head, I continue to take calculated risks managing my business, acquiring new clients, and expanding my company.” — Michael Puldy, CEO, Puldy Resiliency Partners
10. If you don’t put your business on a schedule, it will put you on one.
“When I just started my business, I was going through the usual hustle of a starting entrepreneur. I was feeling completely burnt out. I mentioned this to one of my mentors, a retired businessman who owned his business for 35 years. He told me that if you don’t put your business on a schedule, it will put you on one.
This means I needed to determine a time when I would work and when I intended not to work. I must control work, so work doesn’t control me. His advice helped me segment my time more properly. I defined my starting and quitting times and tried not to go beyond them. Surprisingly, this has actually helped me focus more during my work hours and get more done.” — Bryan Philips, Head of Marketing, In Motion Marketing
11. Boundaries are the guardians of success.
“My mentor’s advice is ‘boundaries are the guardians of success. Only allow those who will respect them to pass.’
COVID-19 brought panic to all of my clients. Everything needed to be done yesterday, even if it was received today. As a small business owner of a virtual assistant business, my responsibility was to keep others afloat as it was the foundation of my own business. If they sink, I sink. The sense of urgency became extremely trying on the boundaries I had in place.
The words of my mentor helped me succeed. I didn’t fall under the pressure of demand. I stood my ground, kept my boundaries strong, supported others, and thrived.” — LaKenya Kopf, Owner, Kopf Consulting
12. Start with little and grow gradually.
“The best business advice I received from my mentor is to start with little and grow gradually. This is the best advice. Begin with less and don’t try to make everything big happen at once. My mentor told me that great empires were built one step at a time.
The reason to start with little and less is that you get to know the business and its ups and downs better before taking a big step forward. Also, small businesses have less staff to manage all the tasks. It is better to begin with fewer tasks so that you can focus on them and make the business perform well at a smaller level first.” — Lisa Arlington, Founder, Giftsnerd LLC
13. Pay attention to details.
“My mentor, at the time, was crazy about details. He triple-checked every report that came out. However, he also prevented multiple mistakes from occurring and even saved his own business. While he was mentoring me, he made me develop a sense for details. He taught me to be extra cautious, no matter how big or small a thing is.
This was very hard to do at first, but after some time I’d gotten better and managed to keep everything under control. Just like my mentor, I was lucky enough to catch a few errors on time and save us a lot of money and maintain our reputation.” — Stefan Chekanov, CEO, Brosix
14. Create an online presence.
“I own a store offering musical instruments in California. I remember one of my great mentors suggesting that I need to work on our online business side, the same way we are investing in our brick-and-mortar store.
At first, establishing our online store was just a backup and further expansion of options for our customers. However, we have seen now how important this is during the pandemic. Now, we are promoting our business campaigns through various email marketing software that I consider one of the good investments we put in our online store department.” — James Bullard, Founder, Sound Fro
15. When you’re close to giving up, remember why you even started.
“This is the best advice I received from my mentor: ‘When you’re close to giving up, remember why you even started.’
Exhaustion and burnout are common among entrepreneurs, especially since they are subject to a lot of stress. This advice resonated with me since my motivation levels and drive are continuously oscillating.
Whenever I feel down and unmotivated, I always remember the reasons for starting my business venture. Doing so helps me to regain my lost motivation.” — Stephen Light, Co-Owner and Chief Marketing Officer, Nolah Mattress
16. Be who you needed when you were younger.
“My mentor shared with me, ‘Be who you needed when you were younger.’
I take this quote with me into all walks of life. I especially use it when managing my team. By putting myself in my team’s shoes when offering advice and guidance, it gives me a fresh perspective. It helps me become the person that they need to reach their full potential. With this awareness and insight, I’m positioned to not only succeed in business, but build my team up along with me.” — Mark Hayes, Head of Marketing, Kintell
17. Build partnerships.
“A piece of useful advice that I received from my mentor in the college was not to go in all alone. Initially, I thought that I can do better alone. Later on, I realized that a business always needs partners.
I started building partnerships as advised and the gap in my experience was filled. Then I started involving experts to take charge of different tasks and the performance got a boost because I wasn’t able to manage everything on my own. The advice worked for me perfectly.” — Damon Routzhan, Founder and CEO, Concrete Candles
18. Uplift your peers.
“The best advice I’ve received in my career is ‘Someone doesn’t have to lose for you to win.’
I think this resonates with me especially in 2021. Uplifting your peers is so incredibly important in the climate of the past year. I believe in boosting those surrounding me in our space and feel motivated by their incredible work and mission driven nature.” — Liz Eddy, Co-Founder, Lantern
“The best advice I’ve received from a mentor is to learn along with your team.
There’s no use in pretending to know everything. Admitting your faults and asking for help from your team is incredibly useful. This has been applicable to the past year, as we have all had to collaborate as a team to work around the stay-at-home orders.” — Jim Beard, COO, BoxGenie
20. Don’t get caught up on perfection.
“My best advice from my mentor is to stop letting perfectionism keep you from moving forward.
I didn’t set out to create a business when I first created my products. I made them to fix my own pain points and afterward realized I had something others would want. When I realized I could turn this into a successful business, I had trouble making big moves because I got caught up on perfection. This obsession with perfection caused a lot of inaction and my mentor gave me great advice.
You’ll never move forward if everything has to be perfect to do so. You can fix things as you go and there will always be something to fix or change.
Prepare the best you can and move forward. Act. Edit as you move. Otherwise, you’ll never get started and all of that effort and energy will be for nothing.” — Camille Chulick, Co-Founder & CEO, Averr Aglow
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