Ten Examples Of How Your Mentor Can Help With Execution
At the beginning of your mentor engagement, you would expect him to help you with the fundamentals – your idea, your business model, your strategy. But beyond that when it comes to executing, there are a myriad ways in which a mentor can help improve the quality of your actions. The following examples are meant to illustrate how valuable mentoring can be when it succeeds.
1. Dealing with discontinuous change while scaling – situations change rapidly at a fast growing startup. Problems not seen before, arise – this requires great awareness which a mentor can help provide. Beyond that your mentor will have the problem solving skills to help you with direct, actionable advice and support.
2. An important but subtle change when scaling, is that the appropriate leadership style changes with scale. This can hard to foresee and even harder to implement as leadership style is closely linked to your inner self. A mentor can help you make this transition. One such critical transition is hiring a COO. Suddenly you need to learn to delegate, set up performance indicators and get good at reviewing performance.
3. Moving from founder-led selling to sales hires is a tricky challenge. It is extremely important to succeed with this and at the same time it’s quite hard. It takes a lot of preparation. Your mentor will have the experience to help you achieve this step by step.
4. A mentor will help you focus on customer benefits rather than product features. This is a fundamental reorientation that needs to percolate down into your product strategy, design and development processes. It can be especially useful for entrepreneurs who are in love with their product.
5. A mentor can dramatically enhance the quality of the business plan. He can make sure that all the moving parts are covered. For example, he can help you discern how fixed and variable costs will change as you increase throughput, add locations, add products.
6. A mentor can teach you how to run the business by the numbers. At size predictability becomes key for investor confidence and share price.
7. Making the Board work – with help from your mentor you can channel the collective wisdom of senior members in your board into cohesive action.
8. At a personal level a mentor is a confidant – he provides a shoulder to cry on and help you deal with anxiety and self-doubt.
9. A mentor can help you understand where your investors are coming from and set up a more productive and collaborative environment with your investors.
10. Right size the vision – a mentor encourages big picture thinking. This may lead you to dramatically upscale the vision of what the business is capable of achieving. At other times your mentor can provide a reality check and help test fantasies you may be beholden to.