Mentorship is the gift that keeps on giving. Whether you’re the head of an ASX 200 company or making your entrepreneurial entrée to the business world, the right mentor can act as a coach, sounding board, reality check, counsellor or cheerleader. Sometimes, all on the same call writes Nick Bell, five times AFR young rich-lister and founder of 12 global digital agencies including First Page Digital, Lisnic and Removify
I’ve been both a mentor and mentee on many occasions and for me, the value gained at both ends of the relationship has been inestimable, and a direct contributor to the success of the businesses I’ve founded. That includes WME, the digital marketing agency I sold in 2017 for $39 million. These days I own 12 digital agencies around the world, including Removify and First Page Digital. As a result, I’ve been listed five times by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) on its annual Young Rich List. Great advice from strong mentors has played a big part in the success I’ve been able to achieve.
Do you really need a mentor? Yes!
Through my experiences as a mentor/mentee, I became a better leader, husband and father. I know that’s a broad statement, but it’s a fact. The old saying, “you don’t know, what you don’t know” rings true. The more personalised information that I learned that was relevant to me, the better my life became. Prior to finding a mentor, my group of companies was growing at 40 per cent year on year. With the introduction of several mentors in the past five years, this figure has grown to exceed 135 per cent.
It’s positive outcomes like this that led me to team up with fellow digital entrepreneur Lisa Teh of CODI Agency – to whom I am a business partner, investor and friend, as well as a mentor – to build out a global digital platform called, Lisnic, effectively a matchmaking portal for mentors and mentees, dedicated solely to creating strong, sustainable mentoring relationships no matter where you are in the world.
Here are five reasons why, in my experience, it’s an absolutely crucial step for any CEO, business owner or entrepreneur to invest in a well-structured relationship with the right mentor:
Help stay motivated
As the top dog in your business you’re used to coaxing the best out of everyone around you. But who keeps you accountable? If you take nothing else from mentoring, having someone to check in on your professional and personal progress reviewing your commitments and goals, is a really critical point. It’s easy as a business owner or leader to become a little distracted, we’re human after all. I know for me having that layer of accountability has sometimes been the real kick I needed to stay on track and motivated.
Keep you moving forward
When one of my companies was being acquired four years ago, one of my mentors assisted in sourcing the acquirer, helped structure the deal and didn’t take one dollar for helping. I offered, they refused. With their guidance/advice, we received an extra $15 million on the sale price.
Watch the big picture
It can be fun to get in the trenches and get dirty with your troops, but who’s calling the shots? Having someone who can help you to identify the bigger picture and work systemically towards it, ensures you’re working on the business rather than in the business.
Even the best business leaders get inside their own heads at some stage – questioning what you’re trying to achieve; unable to visualise the next step; or challenged by a daunting task or goal. I certainly had moments, where I thought I should tap out and do something else, but thankfully I leaned on my mentor who kept me on the right path. Thankfully he did! Sometimes you need a circuit breaker, a fresh perspective from someone who understands your ‘why’ and can deliver the reality check you can’t get from the people around you.
Look after yourself
Making daily decisions that impact people’s livelihoods and even the viability of the business can take a toll. No-one knows that better than someone who has stood in your shoes. A good mentor isn’t only interested in how your KPIs are tracking, they’ve also got your back on wellbeing matters. I’m a big believer that if you want success in business, you can’t just work 24/7 with no focus on your physical and mental wellbeing. Pre-Covid, I invested in upgrading my home gym which includes a vertical climber and an assault bike, and I also commit to four sessions per week of aerial acrobatic training. The key is to find something that works for you, and I have no doubt a great mentor will also have their own health & fitness routine that you can swap notes on.
Finally, it’s worth noting there’s nothing quite like the feeling you get from mentoring someone. Lisnic is transactional, but for many of our mentors that’s a secondary consideration to the emotional rewards. When you see someone break through a personal barrier or make a target because of your advice, it’s just a great feeling. I’d actually say that mentors get just as much from the relationship as the mentees. It’s definitely a win-win relationship.
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