The Crucial Role of Mentors in Scale-up Businesses

19 Apr 2024

A scale-up business is more often than not beset with several 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 appropriately.

Perhaps even more critical is putting in place the right management structure to manage the change. However 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 many direct tangible benefits that accrue from having a mentor guide the growth phase of any company.

These 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 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 any time 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 savings in terms of opportunity cost on account of the mentor helping considerably shorten the lead time to come to speed will be immense.

  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 for his personal growth and ability to understand the intricate nuances of the scaling up 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 business.