“I’m just starting out in the industry. Even though I have a license, I feel pretty lost and like I need direction. People have suggested I find a mentor or a consultant. What is the difference and how can they help me?” 

A consultant is an experienced, knowledgeable professional in your field who has enjoyed success and is qualified to offer assistance to professionals and business owners for a fee. Most consultants operate under a contractual agreement that requires them to deliver specific results to a client and penalizes them if they don’t perform in accordance with the terms of the contract.

A mentor is a knowledgeable professional who has something to offer another professional–most commonly for free. In our industry, you’ll find two types of people who consider themselves mentors: mentors who specialize in professional development and mentors who specialize in technical development.

A professional development mentor is a mentor who provides career guidance and support to industry professionals. They help new graduates create resumes and coach them before interviews. Some mentors work with business owners (or potential business owners).

Technical mentors (most often referred to just as “educators”) provide advanced technical education. They help professionals learn new skills or refine their technique. A technical mentor may or may not be very experienced, but experience doesn’t equate to expertise where technical skills are concerned. For the sake of this post and all those that follow, we’re going to be talking about professional mentors–those who specialize in professional development.

8 Reasons Every Salon Professional Needs A Mentor

1.) A mentor can show you parts of our professional world that you otherwise would have to discover for yourself.

Mentors know their professions well and can give you a clearer image of what the industry is like so you can make an informed career decision. Perhaps you want to be a product educator or brand ambassador, but upon speaking to your mentor (who has held that position), you discover that traveling and hawking product for pennies just isn’t how you envisioned the job. A mentor can fully open your eyes and help you to consider your options from a more informed perspective.

2.) A mentor inspires. 

When someone you admire demonstrates a belief in you and your dreams to the point that they’re willing to help you make those dreams a reality, your anxiety and self-doubt will diminish.

3.) A mentor encourages and supports. 

Nobody will be able to empathize with you the way your mentor will. A mentor has “been there.”

They’ve endured the same baptism by fire and emerged from the flames victorious. When you suffer a major setback, your mentor will be there to tell you, “You’ll live.” The best part about these vent sessions? They end productively. Thanks to your mentor’s experience, they can tell you how they coped and can put you on the fast track to learning the lessons your bad experiences yield.

4.) A mentor guides and instructs. 

You don’t know it all. Nobody does. Even mentors have mentors (yes, this includes me). I’d be willing to bet the majority of the most successful mentors have mentors themselves–not just to provide guidance, but to provide continued insight and alternate viewpoints.

Mentors help keep you from becoming too rigid in your beliefs, in addition to shortening your learning curve considerably.

5.) A mentors opens doors for you.

Mentors will introduce you to their contacts and promote you. Some mentors are influential themselves or have ties to influential people.

Just knowing them may lend you credibility.

For example, Jaime Schrabeck introduces me to show coordinators, promotes me to her own following, and encourages professionals to read my content, attend my classes, and buy my book. Now that I have gained the attention of her contacts, I’ve been asked to speak at major trade shows. I opened a few doors of my own over the last few years (accidentally), but Jaime blew them all wide open with no effort whatsoever. It would have taken me years to reach where I am now if she hadn’t intervened. Honestly, with my introverted disposition, I likely would not have ever agreed to speak at shows, but this ties in with #2. An effective mentor can help ease self-doubt, encouraging you to do things you otherwise wouldn’t consider.

6.) A mentor grants individual attention. 

What do you need to do to be successful? Ask your mentor. Books and classes are helpful, but nothing will ever beat personalized advice and an action plan customized to best serve your individual goals.

7.) A mentor holds you accountable.

A good mentor has mastered the fine art of strategic throat-punching.

Mentors know when to comfort you and when to confront you. This goes beyond encouragement. Self-esteem is important, but we aren’t talking about a heartwarming, confidence-boosting chat; we’re talking about a roundhouse kick to the face intended to keep you on track. In a survey conducted in The War for Talent, 95% of the mentoring participants surveyed said the experience motivated them to do their very best. (The number of throat punches and roundhouse kicks delivered to the participants were not recorded, but believe me, plenty were distributed.)

Without a mentor, you’re not being monitored. When you are being held responsible for completing your goals by someone you admire, you’re far more likely to ensure you complete them.

8.) A mentor greatly increases your likelihood of success.

In 2012, Micromentor.org, a site that pairs professionals with volunteer mentors, surveyed their users and found that, “those who received mentoring increased their revenue by an average of $47,000, or 106%,” and, “those who did not receive mentoring only increased their revenue by an average of $6,600, or 14%.”
Lisa Quast writes about the findings of a multi-year study on the effects of mentoring in the workplace. The study found that,“employees who received mentoring were promoted FIVE times more often than people who didn’t have mentors,” and “Both mentors and mentees were approximately 20% more likely to get a raise than people who did not participate in the mentoring program.”

Put simply: you can’t afford not to have a mentor.

Want to learn how to find a mentor? Click here.

Want to know how to get the most from your mentor? Click here.


What about you? Do you have a mentor? Have you ever mentored anyone? How did it go? What did the relationship teach you? Would you do it again?

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