When you run your own business, sometimes it’s hard to get your head out of the daily grind and focus on the future. This is where a great business mentor comes in handy.
Most business owners simply don’t have the time to do the big, strategic thinking which takes their businesses to next level.
There are bills to pay, suppliers to talk to and customers to serve.
Enter the mentor.
We spoke to small business owner Renae Pitargue, of First Class Accounts, on how a business mentor has helped her focus and grow her business.
The Pulse: Tell us a bit about your business.
Renae: I’m a bookkeeper and franchise owner at First Class Accounts. I started my business back in 2004.
After working in several corporate roles in Sydney, we decided to have a tree change and moved back to my hometown in regional Victoria.
I took over the franchise and kept on the existing clients with a contractor, and I set about establishing myself with new clients.
Today, I have seven staff working for me and plans for more growth.
The Pulse: When did you decide to get a business mentor?
Renae: Well, I didn’t think I needed a mentor or a business coach, to be honest! I thought I was already doing everything that I needed to do.
About two and a half years ago, I had a couple of tradie clients whose businesses were growing rapidly and had more work then they could manage.
I saw an ad for an Action Coach business-mentoring seminar. So I said to the boys, ‘c’mon we need to go to this so you can get some tips on how to grow successfully’.
So, I turned up to the seminar, but they didn’t!
As I was sitting there listening to the presenter I kept thinking ‘oh, that’s what I need to do! I need to do this for my own business’.
When I had my first session with my mentor, it was like flicking a switch. I was able to figure out exactly what I wanted for the business and figure out how to get there.
In no time at all, the business started to grow. It was quite extraordinary – almost like the power of positive thinking.
The Pulse: So what does a business mentor actually do?
Renae: Having a business mentor has given me focus and accountability.
It forces you to have a plan and understand your business – not to assume anything.
My mentor is like my CEO. I meet with him fortnightly. I have a focus sheet, an action plan of sorts that we work on together.
We go through the tasks and see if I’ve achieved what I set out to do in the previous fortnight.
My mentor makes me accountable, and I think you need that external accountability when you’re working for yourself on your own business. He’s also able to help with ideas and focus when it comes to making the plans.
Another huge part of the processes is making sure I know my own numbers. As a bookkeeper, it is my job to know my clients’ numbers, but I wasn’t doing it for my own business!
Now I almost can’t wait to get to the end of the month so I can review my numbers.
It’s real and quantitative and helps inform my plans, whereas before, I was doing everything on a whim.
The Pulse: Any advice on finding a business mentor?
Renae: I think it’s very important to find someone you work well with.
I would say it’s better they’re not in your industry too.
Business coaches come from all different backgrounds and I think it’s helpful to get a different perspective, so you don’t get bogged down in the operational stuff.
It’s important to focus on the big picture, strategy, planning and management skills.
I would have never got to where I am today without that third-party questioning me, challenging me and making me get on with it.
It’s almost taboo to admit you need that help – especially amongst bookkeepers – but it’s about investing in yourself and your own business.
You’re so busy doing everything else in your business; you need the time to focus on your business.