What is a Business Mentor

Business mentors play an important role in helping our members address, and overcome their business challenges. However, there are difference between a mentor and a service provider. Here are some things to know ahead of time about the role your mentor plays in your business development.

Webster’s defines a Mentor as, “a trusted counselor or guide.”

In his piece in Inc. Magazine, The Difference Between a Mentor and a Consultant, Norm Brodsky states, “a mentor’s role is not to advise you but rather to give you a different way of thinking.” Mr. Brodsky also remind the Mentee that they should be there to learn, and make their own decisions relying on the mentor to be a sounding board and not an adviser.

Business Mentor, Fashion Business MentorA good example of this would be Line Sheets. This is a very common request we receive from our members. One of which our mentor Melissa McGraw of Fashion Potential is happy to offer input on. This is a perfectly acceptable in the role of a Mentor. The Mentee is given valuable feedback from an industry veteran, but it is left up to them to either take action on that feedback or not.

If the Mentee should want Melissa to do their line sheets for them that then becomes a service, or work-for-hire. Actually performing a task like graphic design, pattern making, brand development, or sales is outside the role of a Mentor.

Bear in mind that it is neither your Mentor’s role to edify or admonish you, but rather to provide you with a different paradigm from which to assess your business decisions. Their objectivity is your greatest asset as it helps you to see the forest for the trees so to speak.

Here are some other great posts on working with a Mentor we recommend:

Do You Have a Business Mentor and 4 Kinds of Mentors for Fashion Designers by StartUp Fashion.


Author: Steven Matsumoto

Steven Paul Matsumoto is the founder of Seattle Fashion Incubator, and an active member of the Seattle business community. Currently Mr. Matsumoto sits on Advisory Boards for the University of Washington Fashion Certificate Program, and the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle.

Share This Post On