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10 Tips Every Sidekick Should Know

A business mentor can prove to be a superhero who offers wise advice, encourages you through your failures and teaches you by example. Being a sidekick to another retailer who is older, has more experience or excels in areas you don’t could be a life-changing learning opportunity. Here are 10 tips to being a top-tier sidekick.

1. Treat people well.
A good mentor will model in their day-to-day life how to treat people respectfully in a variety of situations, ranging from the most pleasant to the wildly mortifying.

2. Strategize to balance work and family.
A business owner who balances time with their family can help you prioritize the people who matter most while doing the work you love.

3. Handle people problems.
A more experienced business owner can offer insight when you run into personnel or customer problems you don’t know how to navigate.

4. Be consistent.
A good mentor will use the advice they give, making their heroic words match their deeds. Watch how their advice works for them and, if it doesn’t work, then ask why.

5. Prepare for the future.
If you’ve never developed a succession plan, seek out a mentor who has. They can help you think through potential problems and offer tips.

6. Imitate their successes.
An experienced retailer can offer ideas based on what has worked for them. You may be able to imitate key practices with fewer risky experiments.

7. Don’t repeat their failures.
A retailer with many years in the industry has likely made and learned from some giant mistakes, so ask about their biggest failures and how you can learn from what went wrong.

8. Learn to prioritize.
A mentor is a resource for suggestions on time management, implementing accountability for employees and delegating responsibilities.

9. Gain referrals and resources.
A seasoned retailer likely has experience with a variety of employees, POS systems, distributors and training programs. Ask questions.

10. Lead your own sidekick.
If you develop a time-tested relationship with a mentor, you will have a friend you can rely on and learn how to be that friend to other retailers.

About Kate Klein

Kate is profiles editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and industry events and writes about retailers' unique contributions to the independent home improvement sector. She graduated from Cedarville University in her home state of Ohio, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English and minored in creative writing. She loves being an aunt, teaching writing to kids, running, reading, farm living and, as Walt Whitman says, traveling the open road, “healthy, free, the world before me.”

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