Most entrepreneurs know that the skills needed to launch a new business are often quite different from the skills needed to maintain a growing enterprise. That's what Marc Diana, founder of personal finance site MoneyTips.com, discovered after he launched his first business venture 15 years ago.
For most business owners, corporate growth is exactly what they're working toward. "You start with one employee -- yourself -- but then the business grows," says Diana. "Eventually you're running an organization with several hundred employees. That change comes with challenges."
It's a sobering fact of entrepreneurial life that launching a new venture with a skeleton crew and leading a large-scale organization that's suffering growing pains are jobs that require vastly different sets of skills. According to Diana, not all CEOs are up for the transition. "For me, I was open to the idea that if I wasn't the right person, we'd find someone else to bring the company to the next level," says Diana. "Before we did that, though, I wanted to see if I could be the right person."
Finding Trusted Advisors
Diana enlisted the help of not one, but three trusted advisors. "I was particularly looking for people who had an interest in me personally," says Diana. "Not a lot of people can have an interest in you personally when you're paying them. I also wanted to identify people who had navigated the challenges I was facing."
In the end, Diana found a handful of seasoned, successful businessmen who were still active in the business community but who also had the bandwidth to help an aspiring first-time CEO, such as himself. "The amount of value and insight I received from those individuals was unbelievable," says Diana. "They helped arm me with all this information that helped me shift from being behind the business problems at hand to putting them on the solution track."
How Advisors Helped
Because of their vast experience, Diana's mentors could see his business challenges from a different vantage point and could offer advice that helped him grasp problems much faster than he could have on his own. "They could explain to me why the company was experiencing pain. They told me what was going to happen next within the company and how certain people were going to react. They even gave me advice on how to best handle those situations as CEO," says Diana.
Because of the guidance from his advisors, Diana reached the point where he could see problems before they arose. "I could see them percolating in the back. I was able to start cutting off those issues before they became problems in my company."
Finding Good Mentors
There's no one place to look for a good mentor. In fact, they can sometimes pop up in the most unexpected of places. For Diana, his first mentor was a former employer who'd gone on to have a tremendously successful career buying and selling companies. The second was a former colleague and the third was a paid advisor whom a business partner had discovered at a professional conference. "I stumbled upon mine," says Diana. 'I never did a search and interviewed people and then picked the best one. It was very fortuitous for me to have the coaches I have."
"In today's web-enabled business world," Diana continues,
where we transact important business with people we've never physically met, mentors can come from a dizzying array of countries and industries. For example, on our personal finance community MoneyTips.com, entrepreneurs can get free advice from seasoned professionals, and perhaps even find a mentor.
Diana is just one of 30 entrepreneurs I recently spoke with as part of my free, upcoming 10-day Art of Mindful Wealth Summit, which launches January 26. If you're looking to build or grow a successful business in 2015, you won't want to miss this free, exclusively online event. I hope to see you there.
I'd love to hear how mentors and coaches have helped you succeed in your business, use the comments below to share your experiences.