Leader Spotlight, Mentor, Mentoring | April 30, 2019
When I first graduated I worked for someone else and I didn’t like some of his management style or professional practices – I thought I could do a better job. I also had an entrepreneurial spirit, and both my dad and brother owned businesses and the concept intrigued me.
I now own a physiotherapy in Collingwood, Ontario that I started about 20 years ago.
I guess because I’ve had them. My dad and brother were mentors for me in the very beginning, I’ve paid for mentors, and I think they’re super valuable. Mentors just touch on things you wouldn’t even think of.
I know when I first started I knew everything about physiotherapy but I knew nothing about business. The confidence, knowledge and experience I have gained as a business owner from interactions and learning from mentors is invaluable. And I guess because I value that so much I now want to create that value for somebody else too.
Mentoring has also been beneficial for me too in relearning all the things there is to know about owning and running a business, but that’s a small part of it. Most of what I enjoy about mentoring is the fact that I love teaching and I love imparting my knowledge. I love giving others the same feeling I got from my mentors – empowerment, confidence and ability!
I think a lot of people who start their own business (including me) are certainly entrepreneurial otherwise they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, and they know their service and industry, but they don’t necessarily know about the other myriad of skills that go into running a successful business. From taxes and accounting to managing staff, scheduling, marketing and advertising, and culture, as entrepreneurs we aren’t aware of all the things we don’t know.
Having a mentor in the very beginning can help to avoid costly mistakes. The “learn-as-you-go” technique can take a while, so find someone who has been through it, who has already made the mistakes and learned, who has had years and years of trial and error.
It’s extremely helpful to have a mentor who understands your specific business – someone who has been exactly where you are so you can ask them specific questions about running the business. If you do, it is best to find someone outside your geographical location so there is no competition between you.
However, although there might be a unique value to having a mentor in your industry, there are a lot of the same skills and knowledge in business. There are a lot of patterns. One of the mentors I worked with was involved in the health industry in general, not physiotherapy specifically, but there was a lot of common ground.
I think personalities should be compatible between mentor and mentee. They have to understand and respect each other. The mentor needs to know his/her advice is being considered and valued, and that the mentee is taking necessary steps to follow some of the advice. Meanwhile the mentee needs to know that the mentor is available, approachable and has an invested interest in their success.
With staffing, one thing I’ve learned over the years is that a potential staff member’s personality and ability to work with your team is so much more important than what they know and their actual skillset.
You can teach skills but it’s super hard to change personality. It’s so important to have a team player and someone who is enthusiastic, honest, reliable, friendly and professional, because those traits are harder to teach than the tasks they will be doing for you.
To ensure this for my business I run candidates through a working interview just to involve them in the work environment a little and observe how they work, interact and engage with the other staff and clients. Depending on the duration I will compensate them, and that little investment is totally worth it for the right person.