John Eales, former Australian rugby union captain was probably the only second row forward who also kicked goals. His range of skills was phenomenal and he was nicknamed Nobody, because “Nobody’s perfect”. In WealthBeing we recognise that almost no-one has all the skills required to run a business successfully – that even the individuals such as Sir Richard Branson have great partnerships – and so we advocate engaging a business partner or a mentor as one of the critical initial steps. Taking on a business partner is a big commitment and the downside can be significant, so it’s best to start with a loose relationship (and a fair way of ending it) for a year or so.
A mentor is an alternative, easier, first step but their role is still unclear. In particular we are often asked how they differ from coaches and consultants. I think that they all have three attributes and that each one has greater strength in one of them:
A coach’s strength is in emotional intelligence, enabling the client to find the right answer for themselves, never leading them to it because if we are told to do something we lack motivation to do it and are unlikely to have sufficient motivation to overcome obstacles if they appear. I sometimes explain this by asking how many coaches does it take to change a lightbulb? My answer is “One. BUT the light bulb has got to want to change!”
A consultant’s strength is in technical knowledge. The disparaging adage of consultants describes them as people who “if you give them a watch they will tell you the time”. I’ve had such an experience but only rarely. The WealthBeing Guide aims to give its readers sufficient knowledge to avoid this trap by explaining the aim of each stage in the development of the business it equips the business leader to be clear what advice and assistance is needed which reduces the chance of accepting vague or even wrong advice.
A mentor’s strength is experience, and a business mentor’s strength is business experience. The original Mentor was a close friend of Odysseus to whom Odysseus entrusted the care of his son Telemachus while he was fighting the Trojan War. A teacher, counsellor and protector, he was like a second father to Telemachus. We draw strength from our parents who have seen life already and show us what to do. A father figure, someone who has seen something similar to your situation can be a useful person to check your approach with. Or when the problem seems insuperable, maybe the loss of your largest customer, having someone who has experienced such potential disasters themselves can be a source of strength.
Ideally you’d like to have someone who excels at being a coach, consultant AND mentor. Well we believe that, for some people, we do. And if we’re not suitable, we can always try and hook you up with the person who understands you, your business sector and the technical issues you’re facing. It may even be Mr Eales.