For many of us, starting a business in retirement is a first. Fresh out of employment in the corporate sector, we know tons about the machinations of a large corporation.

Put to the test, however, we find we know very little about the steps to starting a small business or the legislation around start-ups.

You can spend time fathoming it out yourself, Google being a great asset. But if you are in your 60s, time is probably not a commodity you want to squander. You will save a lot of time – and after all, in your own business time is money – if you make use of the services of a mentor.

What Is a Mentor?

A mentor is someone who knows more than you do in a specific field, who has usually walked the road ahead of you, taken the knocks and learned the lessons, and is in a good position to guide you.

Age is not a factor, in case you were wondering where you would find somebody older than you, though the EQ and maturity often come with age.

The important factor is that they have more experience than you and more knowledge in terms of starting a small business. In this case, it is advisable to work with someone who has previously started one or more small businesses.

It can be a short-term relationship that lasts until you have set up your business, or it can continue for years, the mentor acting as a sounding board.

In my own business, I work with an ‘accountability buddy’ who is currently walking a similar path to me. Together we set goals, and she holds me accountable to achieving them – and vice versa. In a way, she is a mentor.

Over the years, a mentoring relationship will turn into one of simply listening and keeping you on track.

Where Does This Fit in with Coaching?

Mentoring often overlaps with coaching, a topic I mentioned in a previous article. For example, a mentor will also help you to focus your thoughts with an objective or goal and they will hold you accountable for achieving your goal.

The big difference is that the mentor has walked this route before and is in a position to give you some guidance and advice. A coach will ask you the right questions to help you find the solutions yourself but may not have walked the distance themselves.

Many mentors come from a position of wanting to ‘give back’, or to use their experience and wisdom to contribute to the growth of subsequent generations. Mentoring is also a good way of ensuring the flow of good business practice is continued.

What Are the Qualities of a Good Mentor?

A good mentor:

  • Acts as a sounding board and is not constantly telling you how they did it.
  • Is a good listener.
  • Has the ability to guide you to find the answers yourself, rather than telling you how to do it.
  • Can contribute different viewpoints, advice, and knowledge from their own experience.
  • Has the EQ to understand when you would learn more through failure and can hold the space for your learning to occur.

As a life coach working with people approaching retirement, I have already retired, I have read extensively around the topic, and written a book on retirement, so I tend to wear both hats – coach and mentor. I, therefore, call myself a Mentor/Coach.

When was the last time you looked for a mentor? What was the issue? How did they help you? Why were they able to help you? Please share your experience in the comments below!

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