At SCORE we love mentoring our clients, but on a bus? Yes and no. I was on a shuttle bus going from the airport to a conference hotel when the woman next to me started talking about her business concerns. I starting asking her probing questions to help her think through what she was saying and suddenly a light bulb went on and she thanked me for my help. This I call short term mentoring.
There are many kinds of mentoring situations, but we often just think about the long term formal mentoring situation. Sometimes we just need a mentor for the moment as in my example above, sometimes we need long term mentoring (which is my favorite kind of SCORE client mentoring) and sometimes we need a secondary mentor. Example: At SCORE I often get clients with marketing or franchising needs, but as we work through their business concerns, the financial portion of the business plan always pops up. This is where we call in what I call a secondary mentor. Someone with a financial background.
As a business owner, your job is to find good mentors — someone who has been there done that and sometimes just talking things through with another person solves the problem. A good mentor keeps you on a positive track both mentally and businessly. (Yes, I know there is no such word as businesssly, but can you think of a better substitute?)
Isn’t it fun to be a mentoree after you have been mentored? We are constantly on both sides of the mentoring fence as we change and grow. What mentoring experiences have you had? I hope to see you on my next bus trip.
Women in business face enough hurdles as it is. Stepping on legal land mines shouldn’t be one of them.
Identifying potential flash points before they escalate lets you decide how much legal risk you want to take. It keeps problems small and inexpensive. It saves you time and money best spent on growing your business than defending it in court.
Use this 3-point minesweeping strategy to avoid lawsuits:
1. Review employment policies and make sure that your managers apply them fairly. Eighty percent of all business suits involve employment matters.
2. Read and negotiate contracts carefully. They are the number two source of business disputes.
3. Protect your market niche with intellectual property protections (i.e. patents, trademarks, copyright, and trade secrets). It will give you a competitive advantage.
For more information listen to my Business Week podcast.