A business mentor is a person that can transfer skills, knowledge and expertise to a mentee. It is generally agreed that a mentor should be someone who has a great deal of experience and credibility in a subject.
According to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman there are over two million small businesses in Australia*. IF everyone in Australia were a businessperson there would be a potential of about ten mentors per business. That is one large IF. The reality is that the concept of a business mentor is not mathematically scalable, meaning that there are many more in need of a mentor than are legitimately qualified to be mentors. The result is that many businesses rely on their compliance accounting firms for advice which may not be the best solution.
Most people are happy to make decisions based on topics with which they are most comfortable and confident. This is not a bad thing it is just human nature. In the case of accountants, they are most comfortable and confident with accounting advice which may not translate to good business advice. In short finding an appropriately qualified mentor may be difficult.
Master Mind Groups
The idea of a Mastermind Group was popularised by Napoleon Hill about 100 years ago. A mastermind group is a collection of people all of whom have something to offer. That group then meets on a regular basis, and with the implication that each has a special skill, every member is free to seek advice from other members of the group. This too has limitations with regard to finding a group and then the coordination of all the members to meet at the same time. There are few of these groups and in Southern Tasmania I am aware of one such group made up of volunteer members. I know of other groups that require a paid membership fee, but these groups tend to have a specific monthly topic and are not specifically two-way forms of advising.
As the lack of mentors and master mind groups will limit businesses from finding the right advice it leaves us with the ideal of emulating. Nationally and internationally there are people that have been extraordinarily successful. Many of these business people have written books or are extensively written about. I am fascinated by Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger and read any information that I can get on them.
While I am in the legions of people who respect Warren Buffet, I also know that I cannot emulate his ideas on lean manufacturing as it is not something he would readily comment on.
If I have a specific area that I am interested in I will read as much as I can from those people who are considered experts in those fields. For example, the author of 2 Second Lean, Paul Akers** is an expert on Lean that I greatly admire. He has taught me that Lean is more of a principle than a process; that it is seeing waste and eliminating waste through continuous improvement facilitated by a good company culture.
In short it may be hard to find an appropriately qualified mentor or a group to belong to that gives you the support you need, so consider emulating what the best in the business do. This will require some reading but then reading is a good thing according to Warren Buffet who spends up to five hours a day reading. Finally, there are collaborators in most industries that are willing to assist. Try find out who they are in your area. In the meantime; Do you have any questions? And is there anything I can help with? www.fritzshoemaker.com
*Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Small Business Counts, Small Business in the Australia Economy, https://www.asbfeo.gov.au/sites/default/files/Small_Business_Statistical_Report-Final.pdf, Viewed 5/5/19, © Commonwealth of Australia 2016
**Akers, Paul A. (2016), 2 Second Lean – How to grow people and build a fun lean culture at work & at home. 3rd Ed. (paperback). FastCap Press. Or go to Paul’s website.