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Entrepreneur Insights: 3 tips for business mentorship

Entrepreneur Insights: 3 tips for business mentorship

Posted on: August 27, 2013
Author: ATB Business & Agriculture

Nobody knows everything, and everybody can learn something. Lonny Thiessen, the CEO of one of Canada's fastest growing companies, shares the importance of asking questions and sharing knowledge.

When Lonny Thiessen started Ledarco Industries in his early 20's, he had a lot of things going for him: connections with industry veterans, a supportive family, and ambition.

But he also had a lot of questions about running a business. And, as it turned out, that willingness to ask questions was one of his best business assets.

"I would absolutely contribute a huge amount of the success that I've had to personal humility—the ability to say that you don't know, the ability to be wrong," Lonny says. "When you just openly ask for help and admit you don't know, people don't think you're an idiot—they're there to help."

For Lonny, having mentors you can lean on—from professional business advisors to his dad, a fellow business owner—has helped him boost profits and inspire his staff.

Here are three of Lonny's tips for mentorship, from finding a mentor to mentoring others:

  1. For entrepreneurs seeking a mentor: Don't expect to find the perfect mentor. Seek help from a variety of people.

    "You're not going to find this perfect individual who will sit down with you every Friday afternoon and talk to through all your problems. And if you do, you're probably going to have to pay him big money to sit there."

    "I've gotten a lot of good advice just talking to the people I do business with. My customers, my vendors, older people that I see are successful and have knowledge—just reach out. You can pick up bits and pieces from everybody around you."
  2. For business owners wanting to mentor others: Start with your employees.

    "My real mission is with the people that work for me. That can encompass many different facets, but I would say that it's three things: I would like to improve them at work—so if they start at $60,000 a year with me, after a year, if they leave my company, they would be worth $75,000 a year in their next job."

    "And then I'd like to improve them as citizens in the community. We try to put together programs where we get our people involved, kind of through shared contributions... And if they're family people, we want to give them the time to be with their spouse and kids."

    "I feel like if people aren't happy at home or happy in their community, how can they do a good job at work?"
  3. For business owners who want to mentor their kids so they can take over the business: Stop and ask yourself if it's what the kids want. Ask them too.

    "My dad pretty much left it up to us, and with my kids, I would not force them in any way to take over my business if they didn't want to."

    "I think that people have to be very, very passionate and have their full heart in whatever they're doing, so I wouldn't want my kids to take over my business if they weren't passionate about it. Number one, it wouldn't be good for my business, and number two, it wouldn't be good for them."

To hear more from Lonny and other successful Alberta entrepreneurs, visit our We Grow Alberta page

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