In 1984, my brother invited me to join him in business as his partner. After much thoughtful consideration, I enthusiastically accepted his invitation. The journey that ensued has been both exhilarating and terrifying! In the years since, TideWater Group has become a nationwide grounds management and lawn services company.
Up to that point, when I partnered with my brother, my career had been in the classroom and on the football field. What did I know about running a business? Was I really equipped to be a business owner?
My brother and I were fortunate that we brought different strengths to the business: He was masterful at finance, and I had honed my skills in people leadership.
Owning a business is about so much more than making money. It’s also about taking care of people — your customers, your employees, and yourself, and not necessarily in that order.
Early in our business journey, I decided that my unofficial title would be that of mentor. I’ve always enjoyed being a mentor, which comes from coaching and the desire to help young athletes be well-rounded young adults. Being a mentor means investing in another person’s success and expecting nothing in return.
Here are some of the ways I’ve found success in mentoring:
- Create opportunities. This is done as I work side-by-side with our employees. Working with them not only fosters skill building, teamwork and collaboration, but it’s also essential to getting to know the team and understanding the challenges they’re facing both professionally and personally.
- Be transparent. I’ve learned to share my experiences, good and bad.
- Communicate. Interacting openly and non-judgmentally builds trust and rapport.
I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring many of our employees over the years, and there’s no greater satisfaction than lifting someone up and having a front-row seat to watching them grow and develop. The truth is we all need support and guidance. Who do you know who could benefit from your knowledge and experience?