My high school friend rung me last week as I was driving out to Palm Beach and asked if I could be a business mentor to her. She was happy to pay me market rate, and would require a few hours of my time a month. It needed to be in a business environment and she would like me to be hard on her.

The latter... very easy for me as I am a seasoned professional on being hard on people when they need a kick up the bum or a little push in the right direction.

Then, today, my mentor rung me. Not to give me a kick up the bum, but to ask me how I am going. As I explained the latest developments in my business and a little update on my personal life, I was able to hear out loud what my dreams are for my business and how I planned to execute them. I couldn't very well just give him an overarching view like I can with my employees. He wanted to know exactly how I am going to make it happen. Am I going to enough meetings with the right people? Have I done enough research? Is it financially viable? Have I run it past some other people we mutually know that are very smart in business? What do I want the outcome to be? Do I realise how much work is involved?

Am I happy? Will it make me happy? What about marriage and babies? How does that fit in? Have I thought through everything?

Great questions. I really had to think long and hard about the answers. You see, this man is in his late 70's and doesn't like his time wasted. He deals with the best business people in the world week in, week out. He is a legend in his field and has not only made a lot of money over the years, but also has the respect of his peers.

He also is a gentleman. When it comes to business, he is hard but fair. He expects the best out of his people including me. When I succeed, he is the first to reward me for my achievements. When I fail, he wants to know why and how I am going to do it differently next time.

Although I don't think he had too much work life balance at my age, he certainly pushes me to do so. And my health is always number one. If I have a cold, he is the first to send chicken soup over and bagger me until I go home. Fortunately, he doesn't know how to use a computer, let alone the internet, so I can safely work from my bedroom.

The heading of this particular marketing blog has meaning. A good mentor can make you rich if you listen. As I did with my friend who struggles in her business, my mentor does with me - advice that is substantiated by lessons that have been learnt. I have no doubt learnt from the best in the business.

What I said to my friend is that she needs to have goals that are different from her dreams. Goals need to be somewhat achievable, whereas dreams can be much more ambitious then that. Goals may be to turn over $500,000 in the first year, $1,000,000 the next and so on.

She has to believe in herself and make sure that she does what she says she is going to do. Have a business plan, write a marketing strategy and then make sure she implements it.

No excuses.

Also, if she is going to ask for advice, the most important thing for her to do is listen. The advice won't always be right and may not always apply to her business, but what it will do is give her another perspective. When people are giving advice, I have asked her to make sure that they give it based on real experience rather opinion. It's one of the things I learnt years ago when I first joined the Entrepreneurs Organisation.

With my mentor, he has made me richer than I ever imagined. Maybe not in cold hard cash in the bank right now, but I know through his guidance, my business will be worth more in a few years than I ever imagined possible. My benchmark has been lifted and he has helped me re-define how high that should be. In addition, he has created a knowledge bank of what others in different industries do and how they grow from being a small business into being a global business.

This knowledge is invaluable and importantly for me, I pass on this information to my clients who are in the same boat. Small businesses who want to grow. That have a dream.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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