That’s one of the major findings from our Get Fit For Business report. And that desire is something that reveals a golden opportunity for you and your firm of business advisers.
When asked what kind of mentoring they were looking for, 30% said they want help with strategic business decision-making. And 21% said they wanted help coping with the mental-health pressures of being a leader.
As an experienced adviser and business owner, you’re in an ideal position to guide clients in a multitude of areas beyond just their finances. So, what can you do to become a holistic business mentor?
1. Get better at listening and asking the right questions
Two-thirds of entrepreneurs had no business experience before starting their companies, according to recent stats from startups.co.uk. So, some of your clients will be at the early stages of what can be an exhilarating but stressful and pressurised journey.
Having someone who’s happy to listen to their questions, worries and plans for the future can be a huge relief for new entrepreneurs. And, as a mentor, you have to evolve into a great listener.
- Step back, open your ears and let your client talk
- Let them fill you in on their ambitions, their pain points and long-term goals
- Ask simple, open questions that will allow them to speak freely
2. Get in touch with your emotional intelligence
As an accountant, you’re used to basing your thinking on numbers and data. But the numbers don’t tell you everything. Being in touch with your emotional intelligence is equally as important as being an experienced finance professional.
In mentoring sessions:
- Really connect with your client on a human level so you know them well as a person and character
- Show empathy for their situation, let them open up emotionally and support them fully
- Don’t shy away from talking about mental health and wellbeing – they’re vital areas to talk through and an important part of the value you bring as a mentor
3. Become a valued part of their personal journey
Being a mentor isn’t just about helping an entrepreneur run their business. It’s about supporting this client on their own personal journey as a leader. Their personal and business pathways may well be interlinked, but don’t forget the 1-2-1 support you can offer as a mentor.
Talk to your client about:
- What they want from life and their long-term goals as an individual, partner or parent
- How their business can support, fund and drive their personal lifestyle goals
- How to manage their personal wealth so they’re in the best possible financial position
4. Set goals and track your client’s performance and progress
Setting targets is something you’re used to doing with your clients. But these don’t have to be purely financial when acting as a mentor. Sit down with your client and set goals and targets that will fully support their journey.
- Setting timelines for moving the client out of an operational role and into a strategic role
- Setting goals for improving physical fitness and wellbeing to support their health
- Setting milestones for growth, exiting the business and making retirement plans etc.
5. Be their inspiration and their shoulder to lean on
Your real-world experience is what makes you qualified to step into this mentorship role. What your clients want is real support and guidance – and you can offer this in spades. You’ve walked the same business road. You’ve worked with a wide range of other business owners. And you have the financial, strategic and relationship skills that your client is eager to learn.
To set a positive example:
- Be an inspiration to your client and share your stories, knowledge and experience
- Encourage them to recognise their unique talents and nurture them over time
- Be there when they need emotional support and a ‘shoulder to lean on’
- Helping you start valuable conversations
If you want to polish your conversational skills, our CPD-accredited online learning can help. We explain the importance of listening to clients, using broad, open questions and allowing your clients to open up and talk about their ambitions.
Our More Talk, More Action guide has more advice on supercharging your conversations with clients. Learn how to support them, both professionally and personally. And see how becoming a mentor opens up a totally different kind of client relationship.