In my previous blog post I wrote about the importance of mentors and mentorship. In assembling your "community of elves" as I call them (i.e. mentors) it is important to be clear in your intention. What specific assistance do I need and when? In my experience, all business owners need a banker, CPA/accountant, tax consultant, business insurance agent, business attorney, bookkeeper, financial planner, and a business coach. This will represent your professional team of mentors that is essential and not a maybe.
Why are these professionals important? As the business owner it’s imperative that you focus on what you do best and outsource the rest. These professionals are experts in their respective fields and most entrepreneurs are not. For example, an experienced business coach will know the red flags that may not be apparent to an entrepreneur and that can be the difference between success and failure. A business insurance agent will know the right insurance for each specific occupation or industry. A CPA/accountant can provide financial guidance and help you avoid costly mistakes. A financial planner can set up a retirement plan for you and your employees. A business attorney will know the rules and regulations and legal pitfalls for your specific business.
In order to insure that you assemble the best team possible for your business, it’s important to interview prospective mentors. I suggest interviewing three in each category listed above. You can also ask for a list of three clients you can contact for references. Confidentiality may be presented as an obstacle to releasing client names, but I have for example, permission from five of my clients who are willing to be contacted by prospective clients. Obviously, the mentors will be selecting the one's they wish you to contact. Nonetheless, I urge you to contact the names provided and ask the pertinent questions. Examples of questions you might ask include the following:
What are their qualifications?
What is their availability?
How quickly do they respond by email or phone?
What are their fees?
Often, my clients say they cannot afford the mentors I am suggesting. My answer is that you cannot afford to not have this team. It is important, at the very least, to assemble your team. You will then have them in place should you require their services in the future. You can always ask if there is a sliding scale depending on ability to pay. Some team mentors may permit you to make use of a payment plan for services rendered.
I hope this blog will provide a road map as to how to assemble your team of mentors and why that is so important. Also, I have hopefully addressed how you can afford to pay for your team of "elves".