By Nick James

Lyndon Wood, who spent the last 22 years building his own successful businesses, including the insurance company Moorhouse Group, says that he learned many things all alone at the top. However, if he’d had a mentor, he could perhaps have been inspired to accelerate his commercial progress by 10 years.

As Founder and CEO of the new social business network, SunZu The Art of Business that launches at the end of the month, Lyndon Wood is designing the new platform to assist and support business owners at every stage of their life cycle — from start-ups to established firms.

“Already social media networks are being used as effective resources to access information and learn. I’m always learning new things from inspirational people I follow on Twitter. My vision for SunZu is that business owners will be able to mentor one another very effectively within the collaborative network.

“Amongst other benefits, the new social business platform will allow members to ask each other questions, participate in events on and offline, join alliances and even conduct research through polls. It’s about collaboration, sharing knowledge and trading better in a trusted environment to create business growth.

“Perhaps because I’m passionate about business, I confess to cringing when I see an individual being mentored by someone who can barely pay their own bills and has never ‘been there and done it’. What does a person have to offer to grow your business if they themselves do not know what it takes?

“The only people who are qualified to teach about business one-to-one are of course business people who have done it and run a successful business of their own. A mentor comes in many guises but it is for you to establish what you need and how the mentor fits with your plans and knowledge gaps.”

Lyndon Wood advises that if a business owner wants a one-to-one mentor to assist in growing profit and business, they should ask the following 7 questions:

1. Resources — do they bring to your attention critical and useful readings, opportunities or experiences?

2. Advice — can they share institutional and professional wisdom, critique performance and make suggestions?

3. Coaching — Can they coach you in new business skills and practice new behaviours?

4. Protection — Can they assist you in finding new and challenging opportunities within the organization while seeking to protect you from adverse economic forces and dead end job functions?

5. Support — Do they listen to you and explain unwritten rules and acknowledge disappointments and successes? Do they answer your questions using both intuition and knowledge?

6. Rewiring of business components — can they look at the operations, financial sales and marketing areas of the business?

7. Challenge — Can they challenge you on your decisions to make sure all bases are covered and nothing missed?

Lyndon Wood believes passionately that a mentor should not get in the way of business but should challenge a business owner to grow as an individual and also to grow their business in a fit and proper manner. They should listen and advise when decision-makers hit the many crossroads, even if only to give a ‘third party’ clarity view in order to proceed.

As he no longer has the capacity of time to mentor one-to-one, he uses social media to mentor broadly. He has also written a five star reviewed book, Diary of A Fortune Hunter, that shares practical advice based on first hand experience.

He added, “There is no greater reward than assisting others succeed and overcome all the issues that need to be addressed in business. I still face many challenges now because each growth phase is a new one for me and I have to make a mental switch about how I do things. What’s fascinating is that I have several businesses that are very well established and SunZu that is very new, so I’m still learning myself and have an open mind.”

SunZu The Art of Business

Following the acquisition of Ecademy.com in July 2012, SunZu.com launches at the end of the month and is a completely new global business network that will give business owners the assistance and shared learnings they seek in order to grow.

SunZu.com will be completely different to Ecademy.com in terms of the look, feel and business model. No advertising will appear on the site, although businesses will be encouraged to promote their expertise through articles and their business in the companies pages. SunZu will encourage members to inspire and assisting other business owners. The new platform will start with a membership of over half a million from Ecademy.com and will target one million members by the end of the year.

Lyndon Wood summarises, “SunZu is all about meeting new, inspiring business friends face-to-face as well as on line for collaboration because many networks have forgotten that business is about people.”

About Lyndon Wood: Lyndon Wood, aged 41, left school at 14 and set up his first business at 19. He is a successful entrepreneur who owns multi-million pound businesses, including the insurance company Moorhouse Group and Constructaquote.com.

He wrote Diary of a Fortune Hunter in 2011, drawn from 21 years in business. He covers 52 real issues he himself faced and shares 52 solutions, with learnings applicable to businesses from one to one thousand employees.

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