Mark Lyttleton is a speaker, angel investor and business mentor with interests in several early-stage companies. This article will explore the many different ways that business mentors can help budding business leaders, providing the experience, expertise and contacts to help them get their enterprise off the ground.

Business mentoring is more than a buzz phrase, providing inexperienced entrepreneurs with the benefit of a mentor’s extensive experience, knowledge and valuable contacts. Business mentors help founders to develop both personally and professionally, serving as a role model and often forming long-term relationships with the founders they work with.

Mentoring is distinct from coaching, which tends to be for a shorter duration and focus on a particular issue or skill that requires improvement. Business mentoring involves helping entrepreneurs to overcome challenges they would have struggled to get through on their own, providing them with breathing space to think about how to develop themselves and improve their performance.

A business mentor provides founders with someone to talk to and bounce ideas off who understands and relates to the founder’s situation, providing them with the reassurance that they are not alone and inspiring and motivating them. Mentorship can also boost an inexperienced entrepreneur’s confidence, helping them to develop and improve their people skills and self-awareness, deal with difficult situations and plan for business success.

The support of a business mentor provides entrepreneurs with the benefit of invaluable insights that could have a transformative impact on business performance. A great business mentor is someone who has experienced first-hand what it takes to build, operate and scale a successful business. They provide entrepreneurs with the benefit of their extensive experience, sharing lessons they have learned from their own successes and failures. Mentors not only serve as a sounding board but also provide critical feedback, helping entrepreneurs to develop and improve their business.

From the mentor’s perspective, helping inexperienced business owners to navigate the early-stages of their business can be a highly rewarding experience that confers a variety of different benefits. First, being a business mentor can help boost confidence. Mentorship requires an individual to constantly test their skills, solidifying their expertise in various verticals and better equipping them to take risks in their own career (and reap the rewards of those risks).

Mentorship presents the opportunity to look at a business from a fresh perspective, witnessing the growth of a passionate and enthusiastic individual and helping them transform their promising ideas into a profitable business. In nurturing their talent and helping them to grow, lifelong friendships can be formed, creating connections that could prove very valuable later on. Business mentors also benefit from an opportunity to invest in people, paying it forward. Many mentors report feeling a huge sense of satisfaction in helping inexperienced entrepreneurs to find their feet and realise their business goals. In addition, the mentoring process forces the mentor to look at the world differently, through another person’s eyes, providing the potential to reinvigorate their own businesses, creating scope for improvement, and helping them to recognise opportunities they might have missed.