A mentor is essentially a ‘wise or trusted adviser or guide’. The word has its origins in Homer’s The Odyssey. Before leaving to fight the Trojan war, Odysseus leaves his son and estate in the care of his friend Mentor, who then guides the young Telemachus.
To give it a more modern context, a mentor is someone with more experience or wisdom, sharing and imparting his or her knowledge on to someone younger or less experienced.
The concept works incredibly well in a business environment where an entrepreneur may have a great idea for a business but needs a bit of guidance turning it into a successful and profitable venture.
Successful entrepreneurs will often attribute much of their achievement to the support and guidance they received from a mentor. Most notably, billionaire airline and entertainment industry mogul Richard Branson was mentored by the British airline entrepreneur Freddie Laker.
Mentoring does not involve employing a consultant or employee to help run your business. It’s a relationship between you, the entrepreneur, and someone with business experience that can guide you through tough decisions, point out ways of improving your business and offer general support within a trusted relationship.
It’s a two-way communication process which gives more experienced entrepreneurs who have possibly taken a step back, or even retired from their business, the opportunity to share their wealth of skills, experience and expertise with those hungry for knowledge and guidance.