Tuesday, April 11, 2017

  Why a mentor is necessary for a scale-up business.

A scale- up business is more often than not beset with a number of challenges. From knowing exactly how fast to go, so as not to get the company in a pickle and not erring so much on the side of caution as to lose traction and miss critical opportunity, scaling up ensures that John the man in the driver’s seat has his task cut out for him.

Upscaling disrupts the status quo in myriad ways. John will likely have to reconfigure processes pertaining to sales, finance and management information systems. Add to that the fact that most people are resistant to change and it becomes quite challenging for someone like John to inculcate the company culture created by a hundred people in people five times the number.

It is therefore important that decisions pertaining to recruitment and possible retrenchment are taken in the appropriate manner. Perhaps even more critical is putting in place the right management structure to manage the change.

Howsoever skilled and proficient John may have been in running a business at a certain scale, the decision to scale up means that he will now operate in unchartered territory, where he necessarily has to follow a learning curve to become truly proficient at operating at an enhanced scale. The critical part though is that he may not have the luxury of time.

It makes eminent sense for him to seek assistance from a business mentor. Such a person will prove an invaluable asset to John. Their professional expertise, years of experience and insight would help buttress John’s business against the shocks that are often the result of any restructuring that are inevitably the result of any scaling up carried out by a business.

As a matter of fact there are a number of direct tangible benefits that accrue from having a mentor guide the growth phase of any company. There are enumerated below-

1.    Saving Time- There is no point in reinventing the wheel. Your mentor is someone who has been there and has done that. Such a person can hand-hold John and guide him in carrying out the course-correction required for scaling up, saving him valuable time in the process.

 There is always a critical period of time within which any scaling up process needs to 
 be carried out. While John cannot afford to miss the bus, he also cannot afford to make a    
 mistake. That is why having a mentor by his side will be the best course of action for John  to adopt.

 2. Saving Money- This flows from the first point. Having a mentor guide him will ensure that John hits the ground running and does not waste anytime trying to learn the nitty gritty of scaled up processes.

This will enable him to commence delivery in double quick time, enabling him to optimally   
leverage the advantages of scaling up. The saving in terms of opportunity-cost on account
 of the mentor helping considerably shorten the lead time to come to speed will be    

3.Gaining Good Experience- While John may eventually complete the scaling up process on  his own, not having access to a mentor’s tremendous experience would mean that he  
would likely make many mistakes and his learning curve would be far from satisfactory.

Working with a mentor with a wealth of experience would mean that John would not only  
have access to that, but would be able to build upon that. This would do wonders to his own personal growth and ability to understand the intricate  nuances of the scaling up process-something he would not be able to achieve on his own  or take years to accomplish.

 4. Gaining Access To Mentor’s Network- While John would have access to his network of
people beneficial to his business, it would probably not be up to scratch on the scaled up  
level of business. These will have to be a whole new set of people operating in another
universe altogether.

Having a mentor on board means that John can now have unimpeded access to their
assiduously built up network of contacts that would prove extremely beneficial to John’s  

5. Gaining Confidence- A scaled up business will put John in an orbit that is different from
one that he was used to. While this would be a great opportunity for John to put his
business on a high growth path, he may not feel quite up to the task and hesitate, thereby
putting the future of his business in jeopardy.

Access to a mentor however will cause a paradigm shift in John’s situation. He would now have the confidence to operate in the altered business scenario and not hesitate or flounder. Having a mentor is akin to riding a tank with armour plating. You can move
forward unmindful of the challenges on the way.

6. Financial Acumen- The dynamics of the financial process undergoes a qualitative
change with scaling up. Ensuring that the fund flow process is smooth and seamless at that
level does require some acumen.

A mentor could help John with this as well because of their intricate knowledge of the
process gained over the years that they ran successful businesses . Having access to this
expertise is again a great -leg up for anyone seeking to make a success of their business.

7. Marketing- Now that may not be something that John will directly involve the mentor in,
the fact of the matter is that marketing is the very life-blood of a business and any valuable
tips or advice that would come from a dyed in the wool veteran would always be welcome.

The mentor would in his time have likely  been through  entire product life cycles of several
businesses and would be well positioned to offer valuable advice to John.

8. Strategy- The whole driver of the scaling up process is strategy. Having a mentor with his
many years of strategic experience and familiarity with just the kind of scenario that John  
currently faces, makes it an eminently sensible decision  to requisition the services of an able mentor.

Strategizing and brainstorming are right up the street of a mentor, with them possessing years of experience doing just that sort of a thing for living. John would do well to have  such a person advise him and his core team on key strategic decisions that will help the business optimally leverage the advantages of their scaled up business.