Should you have a career mentor? The real-life business benefits

How much more successful could you be with a career mentor? New study reveals the real-life business benefits of a career mentor.

We all need a bit of guidance and advice from time to time. Sometimes we seek comfort from family members or friends; sometimes an authoritative figure like an old boss or teacher. When faced with a difficult choice or at the foot of a mountainous task, we quickly seek help from those we deem wise enough to assist us.

But how much more successful could you be if you had a business mentor with you?

A career mentor fighting your corner is something that many business leaders and entrepreneurs would pay significantly for.

Related: How to mentor entrepreneurs by giving useful feedback

Ahead of National Mentoring Day on October 27, new research from card machine provider Paymentsense reveals that, of 1,000 people who have, or have had, a mentor, would pay £195 a month on average for their support. This works out to over £75 billion of value across all working UK adults.

A third (30 per cent) have benefitted from the advice and guidance of a mentor, with the average employees having had more than three mentors in their career (3.09).

Battle of the gender mentor

Surprisingly, a gender-based ‘mentoring gap’ has emerged from the study, as a third of men said they had a mentor now or in the past, compared with 28 per cent of women. Men also reported having had more mentors than women (3.7 on average, compared with 2.5) and would pay more for their guidance – £229 a month on average, compared with £156 for women.

Lucy Ward is creative brand director at Trouva a marketplace showcasing distinctive products from hundreds of independent bricks and mortar boutiques. Lucy has two mentors – one male and one female and believes it’s increasingly important for women to find female mentors, especially in traditionally male-dominated industries.

Ward says, “Sophie is general manager at the world’s leading independent digital rail platform, and a mother of two, but is always full of energy. She fills me with confidence that I can achieve that too.

“Giorgio inspires me because of his calm influence and level headedness. He runs a company with a similar model to ours in the fashion arena so has walked the path I’m on before, which comes in very useful when seeking guidance.”

Ward is also passionate about getting women involved in tech roles. She is part of ALT (Ambitious Ladies in Tech) a programme by LocalGlobe, and was asked by Retail Week magazine to join its “Be Inspired” campaign. As part of this, Lucy acts as ambassador to help inspire and promote the careers of successful female retail leaders.

She adds, “Having a female mentor allows young women to ask questions that are sometimes hard to discuss in male dominated environments, for example around balancing a demanding career with children and confronting the gender pay gap.”

Mentoring breeds wealth?

People from richer households were also more likely to have had a mentor. On average, almost half (47 per cent) of respondents with a household income of over 50K had benefitted from a mentor. In contrast, more than three-quarters (77 per cent of respondents with a household income of up to 30K have never had a mentor.

Miles Waghorn is founder of Techsilver a company which aims to improve later lifestyle through technology. He first received mentoring and support from The Hive, Nottingham Trent University’s centre for enterprise and entrepreneurship. The Hive helped Miles establish his business and introduced him to his second, full-time mentor, Carole Harvey.

Miles explains, “Carole has been instrumental in my success as an entrepreneur. She combines her wealth of wisdom and experience from numerous roles (including commercial finance director at Boots and FD of an £80m investment firm), with a unique approach where we work together to solve problems, instead of just being told what to do.

“We first met at an Institute of Directors discussion event – I was on a panel as an inexperienced entrepreneur and she was there as an experienced one. Carole’s years of experience means I benefit from advice on both the day-to-day challenges of running a business, as well as longer-term strategic planning. She helped me reach important decisions and boosted my confidence as a young entrepreneur,” added Miles.

Guy Moreve, head of marketing at Paymentsense says, “There’s no question that mentoring can really accelerate a career, especially in the early days. Our study revealed that their top career benefits were improved confidence, better stress management and increased likelihood of promotion. For those looking to go it alone and start their own business the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes and get an experienced perspective can often make all the difference in that difficult first year.

“However, it’s very concerning to see that there is an emerging gender mentoring gap in that men were more likely to have a mentor, as well have more of them than women – clearly this issue needs addressing as part of the wider workplace gender equality movement,” he adds.

Owen Gough

Owen Gough

Owen Gough is a reporter for He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

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Business mentoring