How To Choose The Best Business Mentor For You
How the hell do you choose a proven reliable mentor in a world where so many now claim to be experts?
Type the word MENTOR into Google and see what it brings up? On my Google right now it returns over 162,000,000 (that’s million) returns. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t have time to sit and go through them until I find the right person.
The other problem searching like this is who is actually telling the truth? The past 10-years or so we have been swept up in an information age where information is no longer from the source but rather 3rd 4th or even 10th hand! Would you rather have genuine Nike shoes or cheap copies? I know you’ll understand exactly what I mean.
Now the truth - So much talk about fake news these days yet it does have a validity and does affect your choice of mentor. The big problem online is the ability to copy, the ability to look like a million dollars cheaply and the unaccountability of what is written on web pages. In other words, anyone can say almost anything they like and look, as they like with ZERO experience of their subject.
That’s dangerous and I will tell you why. In my past 32-years in business and over the past couple of decades since the advent of the web I have seen more than one or two businesses going bust due to bad advice and frankly outrageous mentoring and business mentors. And when I say out of business I mean as far as losing homes and wives! All because the mentor made claims that simply weren’t true.
And I want to share this with you. I have discovered and learn more from actual EXPERIENCE in doing business day to day than I have from reading any book and speaking to anyone. The only downside of doing it this way is it is a much longer route to success.
The big problem with a business mentor is this…
- Anyone can set up a website and say they are a MENTOR.
- Anyone can log onto huge mentor websites and register himself or herself as a MENTOR.
- Anyone can stand on a stage and proclaim they are an expert MENTOR.
And as someone that has worked very full-on in the world of writing powerful and hugely successful copy for clients even this world is now heavily tainted with new copywriters that put more focus on creating a course before they focus on winning highly paying clients and serving those clients well.
So as you can see, working with mentors that fit isn’t easy and has never been as hard as it is these days.
There’s nothing new about mentoring.
It’s interesting how the world has changed. I think it's an accurate guess to say most people wouldn’t dream of having a mentor yet mentoring is as old as man himself.
In ancient times once a young man (or woman) was coming into their adult life. They were never sent out with a trial and error approach to things. No, they were had been mentored either by village elders or family member or parents.
Recently I watched an isolated tribe in Peru. The old guy talked about his son going away at 15-years old. The interviewer asked the tribesman this question and it was this.
“What if he doesn’t come back?”
The elder replied, “He isn’t a man”
In other words, the tribe mentored their young from a very small age right up into the age of 15-years old and then they would be sent away with no clothes and just a spear to come back as a man – if he survived! (This was from a documentary in 2017).
You can see how important it was for the tribe to teach the young men how to grow and develop. Clearly, they wanted their boys to return as men and wanted no harm to come to them. They were shown all the important things that will help them to be strong, safer and happier faster so they could return.
They didn’t teach from a manual. They didn’t teach from 2nd 3rd or 8th hand. They taught from something that is priceless when it works and in this case life and death – they taught, shared and mentored from real life experience!
That is how seriously the mentoring was taken.
Even I had some mentors. At the age of fifteen years, I wanted to start my own punk band. I copied the Sex Pistols and the Clash. I did what they did and formed my own band with relative success in the North West of England. Unfortunately, I never had the same success.
In my first job as a landscape gardener, I was put with a man named Norman. He told me to stick close by and do what he did or do what I was told. The reason was obvious – so I could learn fast from someone with 27-years real-life experience. As a young man in the workplace not only did he share a lot of the job he shared a lot of high value with me about life itself and I appreciated him.
Then as a trainee hairdresser, I quickly found out that most hairdressers simply weren’t good enough for what I wanted to do. Everything was the same and I wanted to do things different. So I did a pre-web search and eventually found and bought everything and anything I could about Vidal Sassoon and a very young hairdresser named Anthony Mascolo (Toni & guy). I devoured and listened to what they had written in their books. This type of mentoring fast-tracked me into my hairdressing career.
I finally became a hair and beauty salon owner with three very busy salons. I had to create marketing and advertising for them. It was very average and very much the same as what everyone was doing. The results did show. Again I looked to be guided by someone with experience. I discovered a guy named Leslie Spears. He had created a salon owners organisation named 365 Hair. What I learned from them literally quadrupled my salon business over the following years.
Although I was creating marketing and advertising for my own businesses I accidently discovered I could actually get paid to write words. A client asked me to write some letters for his accounting business. I copied a series of reminder and thank you letters I used for my salons. All were single sheet A4 letters. In total the time took me just one hour or so to create for him. When he came to pick up the letters we never agreed a fee of any sort. He was happy and simply handed me an envelope. In the envelope he handed me was £1,500. I had been hairdressing almost 20-years so this felt like a good way to move into something new but I knew zero about.
My business mentor for the advertising business
I decided I needed to learn from the best to fast track me. I had been a fan of Jay Conrad Levinson, Jay Abraham and Michel Le Bouef but really I wasn’t a big reader and I needed someone that could also teach me the business of doing this new business.
I eventually discovered the master and godfather of modern advertising, David Ogilvy in books. The initial books I bought that I paid just £5-10 for on eBay were to make me literally hundreds of thousands in payments and then the effect on my client's sales went into sales that created literally million upon millions in sales. All from my £5-10 mentoring book from David Ogilvy.
Today I have shelves of books by Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky. I read and get hold of anything I can buy them because I aim to be a great author and for me to do that I can only do that learning from the very best.
“Better a dead genius than a living fool” I believe this to be true.
So whomever I mentor with I have a very firm vision for my personal outcomes. I know exactly what I want to achieve and I know exactly how I need to achieve it before I get hold of my mentor be they dead or alive. I always try and go all the way back to the reliable source rather than a copy.
As you can see from a very personal perspective mentoring is hugely useful and the very best way to progress forward fast and safe in your business.
So the real question is how do you choose a business mentor for yourself?
It’s easier than you think but only if you know what you need. Notice I said need… NOT WANT. What you want and what you need are two very different things. So work out exactly what you need and then the mentor usually appears somehow but you should be willing to do some research and digging to find the right mentor for you.
So let's make this really easy for you.
- What to you need?
- Why do you need it?
- What is the perfect outcome for you?
- Do you need a specialist?
- How will you measure the outcome?
- What is a fair exchange price
- Is the fee relative to the return on your investment
- Can you see any risk?
- Are you doing this for the right reasons?
WARNING: Over all my years rarely have I seen mentoring work for any ‘get rich quick’ scheme. The only person I have seen getting rich are those that sell this garbage.
Very recently I was asked but a guy that had bought into a scheme. Up until that point, he had spent over £12,000 in savings to be part of the scheme. This scheme is very well known and the guy that runs the scheme is very rich (on the surface).
I was paid a handsome fee to look through everything he had paid for simply to offer an opinion. He wanted to know is it good or bad in my opinion.
After a careful and honest review on the videos, online educational etc I found out that quite a bit of the materials had been banned from Google and YouTube yet they were still instructing the buyers to do just this to get riches fast!
After I went through everything I wrote the conclusion to my clients and told him to stop everything right now and ask for a full 100% refund. He finally got his refund but only after threatening legal action.
The client admitted he had done this for one reason only – to get rich quick. Now there is nothing wrong with riches but again in my experience doing anything for money only rarely works.
£12,000 wasn’t his real loss (although he got it back). His real loss was the hour after hour, day after day, month after month and well over a year he had spent trying to make this proven to fail yet sold as a promise system work. Time sint money – time is life and what a waste of life when you take the wrong route by deception mentoring.
Another example: a couple of years ago I wanted to know one tiny trick that would increase my average income but in a very specialized area. I searched for who was doing what I wanted to do. Once I found the specialist I then searched him out to see if I could buy that fast-track secret from him. I contacted him through his website and he agreed to share the secrets with me for - $5,000 – for one hour. Would you have paid that for a chat? How would you feel paying that only to discover you are already doing the secret yourself but it just needed a slight tweak to perfect it? Would you feel cheated?
I paid because I knew the return would be more than what I paid. That one bit of information that took around five minutes maximum to share with me but it was priceless and made me tens of thousands from the simple changes I made. Not only had I paid $5,000 for it but also the returns have been immeasurable in financial terms.
So at this stage ask some questions about your choice of business mentor
- Will a mentor help you to get from where you are right now to where you really need to be?
- Will a mentor give you the skills and information required to make this change?
- Will a mentor have the ability based on experience to help you through and make needed changes when needed?
- Your R.O.I.: It was worth every penny (does the investment although feel large actually become small in relation to your investment?).
- Your Needs: So know what you need (is it something you simply can’t work out yourself or don’t have the time to and want to know in a second how to do it).
- Why: Know why you need it (what is the reason you need this information and you should be specific?).
- Your Outcome: Think about the perfect outcome for yourself (will this mentor be able to help you get an outcome that you can see clearly and perfect in your mind's eye?).
- Life and Time: Think about how you measure your result (money isn’t the perfect measure of anything but a good nights sleep and a smile is so think about how to measure it. I usually invest in a mentor for a financial return so that’s how I measure in the case of my business).
How do you know if a mentor is a good fit for you?
The next thing you need to think about is a mentor that actually suits you. Some mentors will drive you crazy and some mentors will be just perfect for you and others of course, will simply be an absolute waste of your time. Try to get to know as much about them as you possibly can and see if it is a match for you. Read everything you can online that is available. Don’t forget whoever you look at there are always bad reviews as well as the good so take a balanced approach to this.
One thing I would always do is request to them for a free 20-30 minute chat before you commit. The other thing you should do is request to them for testimonials or to speak to previous customers of your new mentor. Don’t be nervous about doing this, mentors are used to it but they are all different. Try and get a feel for them over the phone or Skype.
- Do you like them as people?
- Do you like how they sound – genuine tone?
- Can they give you answers to your questions or do they work around the answers?
- Do they have a good history of doing rather than teaching business or the skills you need?
- Are they respected those that know them?
- Can you risk your investment into them?
For example: With my business mentor I don’t offer a money-back-guarantee I only offer 32-years of front-line and MENTOR experience.
Yet some will offer a guarantee that can sound a bit like this –
‘It’s never been so easy - make £50,000 in the first year or your money back’.
Who would you trust? What sounds most realistic?
I like my mentor clients to come to my home, eat out in high places and share details and information that is working and has worked p everything.
Yet most other mentors would never dream of letting you into their home. I give all my students my personal cellphone whilst other mentors will only give an office phone in office hours.
This might work for you but you must decide what you want from a business mentor?
So in other words, you really need to know what will fit your needs for the very best. What I offer might be the worst thing for you and vice-versa. Just try and find the right fit so it feels good and works well.
One note for you here is this; if it feels like it isn’t working just move on quickly and find the right person. Time is something you cannot recover so make sure you use your time wisely and again measure the results you need.
Paying a mentor – how do you work out if its value?
I believe in value exchange.
Simply this means that if you paid $5000 for a mentor what would you feel would be a good exchange in return for that $5000?
I would sit down and work out my returns.
In other words …
- What do I want from this investment?
- Would I get my investment back?
- How long would it take to get it back?
- How much more than my investment would I get back?
- If I invest $5000 what is my projected return that I would actually be happy with?
For some, they will invest into a mentor for a lifetime of skills wrapped up into a fast track teaching method. For others, they want a return over five years. For others again they simply want to make lifestyle changes and need new skills to help them push through faster.
So I would sit with a pad and pen and work it out. My estimate would be to get at least four times my investment back over time but I would make sure I knew that I would get my investment back right away. When I say right away I would always work out how to do that and make that really happen that I get my investment back relatively quickly.
So you need to do the math here. A mentor should never be a risk. The risk is only when you fail to do your math and homework.
- Work out your numbers
- Be realistic on your outcome
- Make sure it’s a reasonable investment not just a lump of cash spent
For example, I worked with a client that was spending literally £25,000 a month on direct mail. In real a terms for what his company was doing that isn’t a lot of cash yet it’s a huge amount of cash if the returns were zero and they were zero.
They paid me to mentor or fast track them through the process and look at what they were doing wrong. They spent a good amount on their mentoring but the question is it a good investment for them?
One the first day we met I slashed their direct mail bill by around 24,500 mailers. So right away they got their investment back from business mentor. The first campaign I took them through which included copy, design, and packaging for the mailer sold a record £1.2 million in cars from just a few hundred mailers rather than the 25,000 they had been sending before.
Was it worth their investment?
Another young guy from Australia decided to mentor with me. Not only did he fly from Sydney to train with me he borrowed $25,000 from his mother to make it happen. Something incredible happened in that not only did he take orders for over $90,000 in under 12-weeks but today over 12 years later he is still making a good living and great life with his initial investment.
When thinking about your new mentor simply ask yourself will it be worth your investment of cash and of course your valuable time. Bear in mind you may not get back your investment in days – it might be years – but that might be natural. Just think about what is best for you and then the return for you.
Some things I would be very careful of from a mentor
- Big promises that are hard to believe
- Results that sound ridiculous
- Actual numbers and results you will get
- Instant results for minimum effort
- Cheap mentors (you pay for what you get)
- Mentors with no business experience (I would never allow a surgeon to operate if I was his first would you?)
- A mentor that gives you the hard sell. (To them you are simply a number)
For example some years ago when I was speaking at more business events it was an absolute priority for the promoter that you had to sell as many places into your mentoring as possible. If you failed to do so you would never be asked to speak again. That’s not good for a speaker that loves to speak.
It was almost comical to listen to some speakers in the back room planning away from the audiences, trying making up and practicing every line and every phrase to be supported by NLP and other doubtful practices just to get a sale. They would never refuse a customer – money was always the number one driving force.
In other words, sign up and see what happens. As a side note be careful of signing up for any mentor package from a stage. It is all too easy to get wrapped up in the powerful pitch, the strong slides, and amazing speakers and of course the emotions of the crowd. Tread very careful.
If a mentor doesn’t interview you before anything starts I doubt they will be right for you. I interview ALL my applicants before we work together and have no problem saying no to some applicants for reasons such as they may not be right for me and I might not be right for them
How to choose your mentor
So in a nutshell, the business mentor has to be in line with what you already have in mind. If you need to sell cars or want to be a hairdresser well there is no point getting mentored by someone that has zero experience in either. Be wise in your choice.
You cannot buy experience. How can you pay for what anyone can learn over twenty or thirty years? Does the mentor you work with have genuine experience in business, on the front lines of business or are they simply pitching a manual or a course to you?
Mentoring in business isn’t simply about a system or a way of doing things. It can be about understanding people, understanding the buyer's process, understanding triggers and other important parts of making progress forward.
It can also be that you need a mentor to help you with small daily decisions, large monthly decisions because they have been there they understand the processes and can reduce your risk dramatically.
For me, it is always interesting to see say a marketing director of a company with NO business experience being given the reigns to the marketing or – THE FUTURE – of a company. That is what you call very high-risk strategy.
A mentor for whatever reason you need a mentor should reduce risk, increase the speed of your goals, help to navigate you through the process much faster and have the ability to pass over skills for life that can be used tome and time again.
I have to finish say in my 32-years in business, in my two decades of mentoring and in my multi-million-pound sales experience I have rarely seen mentors with no real life experience deliver real life experience.
- Do your homework properly and take your time
- Know what you want from your mentor
- Know your outcome for yourself
- Choose your mentor very carefully
I hope this has helped.
Help and Advice?
You can find me at www.OrangeBeetle.com
I really hope this short, sharp and to the point report has helped and guided you into more success.
In your service
Alan Forrest Smith
Some useful questions you really must ask yourself and write before hiring a mentor.
Have I chosen the right mentor and why?
What is it I admire about this mentor that makes me want to work with him or her?
Have I seen enough real proof?
Do they seem driven to serve me or take my fee?
What is it I expect from my mentor?
What problems do I need solved?
What kind of result would I be looking for?
What are the details I need to be fast-tracked on?
Am I willing to take advice from a stranger?
Will I run with what is suggested?
Have I worked out the ROI from my investment with my mentor?
Most important – Does it FEEL right?