As an accountant who work with small businesses, as well as a small business owner myself, I have seen the amazing impact mentoring can have on the success of an individual and their business. I have been fortunate enough to have amazing mentors who have influenced my path, helped me find purpose and design a balanced life but as I mentee I’ve learned that, even with great mentors, your success is still in your hands; you only get out of your mentor-mentee relationship what you put into it. Here are the lessons I’ve learned for how to develop a mentoring relationship with a purpose.
Be Present and Find Your Purpose: Connect and enjoy every interaction with your mentor, and your client/mentee.
My mentors helped me discover, shape and enjoy my true purpose in life. I remember that uncomfortable question from my family at a really young age, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” and not having an answer for them. When I was 12, my dad, an accountant, started bringing me to his office on the weekends to help him organize paperwork and count receipts. My dad is one of the most passionate accountants I’ve ever encountered. He would transform in an office full of paper (back then). He was always happy to be there and effortlessly enjoyed every moment of it – good or stressful. I loved watching him work and transmit his happiness and passion to me and his clients. Everyone had a good time in my dad’s office.
Take Advantage of all Learning Channels: Use all the tools at your fingertips to help you succeed, and help your clients find those that will help them move forward.
In high school, I decided to start taking accounting courses to learn more about the subject. I told my accounting teacher that my dad had already introduced me to the basics and I wanted a real challenge, so she went the extra mile with me. As a result, I completed seven accounting courses in high school, and was the only student to have ever completed the seventh in that school district. The teacher knew I was taking advantage of everything she threw my way, so she helped me find an after-school part-time job so I could start practicing my new skills. I will never forget her dedication to teaching.
Make Fear a Friend, not a Foe: Confront your fear, and you will find that it is a valuable tool; it can drive you forward.
So, I started practicing my skills in the real world at the age of 16. My boss knew I was hungry for more, and he knew of many of the challenges that were ahead. As a great mentor, he wanted me to be better than him, so he gave me all the tools he wished he had at my age to be fearless and take bigger risks. I learned how to live comfortably, fearless and effortlessly by doing what I loved the most. He put me through some real-life accounting challenges so I could learn to express myself, and know my boundaries and limits. Risk never felt so good by his side because he was always there to guide me and help me evaluate the situation and decide what I needed to do to overcome any obstacles.
Trust Yourself: This is the key to becoming a true success in life. It requires strength and courage.
Next, I started my bachelor’s degree in accountancy. While at ASU, my dad guided me to start my own business from home, preparing tax returns for friends and family. When I received my degree in 2012, I opened my office and started accepting small businesses as my clients. Much more responsibility came with opening a business, including the pressure of creating true value for clients and employees to stay competitive, becoming financially independent as a business owner, and dealing with all the consequences of my actions. Being my own boss has been the most challenging thing in my life, but it has fulfilled my purpose and allowed me to do what I’m good at; it keeps me going. Every day is an adventure!
Give Back: Do what you love to do, and people will immediately become attracted to you. And because you illuminate the room with your experiences, mentoring is done very effortlessly.
My mentors did a great job connecting with me and giving me all their focused presence to help me succeed in my career. I want to do the same with all my business clients and my employees. It is very important to connect with them in order to make a difference. My job allows me to not only handle their books and taxes, but also share ideas and experiences, set goals, and see them transform by doing what they love to do.
I hope you can take some of these lessons I’ve learned back to your own mentor/mentee relationships and put them into practice. Leave a comment below if you have any of your own tips to share!
Editor’s note: Read the other articles in the Tax Pro Center’s mentorship series.