A good mentor can have a profound impact on start-up businesses that’s still in their early stages. Advice from a mentor should not only inspire small business owners to go further but should help new entrepreneurs avoid the same mistakes their mentors made in their early days.
Finding your perfect mentor isn’t as easy as just picking a popular name out of a bucket. You should try to understand what makes a great mentor and why a particular industry leader might be the right mentor for you.
Below, we look at some of the ways you can find an experienced mentor who will be able to gently guide you to success.
Understand What Differentiates A Good Mentor From A Bad One
The best mentors are usually the ones that ask you a lot of tough questions. They challenge every decision you make and push you to go above and beyond what you’re capable of. You might believe that mentors who do this are being unnecessarily harsh but they have been through it all before and know the difficult challenges you’re going to face.
Whilst a good mentor will always give you guidance, they won’t ever tell you what to do. Any industry leader that tells you how to run your start-up or gets angry when you don’t follow instructions is not worth your time. Good mentors understand that what you do with your business is up to you and that ultimately, no one else can shape or grow your company.
Take The Time To Find The Right Person For The Job
A frequent mistake made by new start-ups is running to the busiest and most well-known mentor in their industry. Whilst these top rated mentors might work for some start-ups, they won’t work for all.
Rather than trying to battle your way through the crowds to get 5 minutes of someone’s time, look closer to home and dig around your own network of acquaintances for help. Business owners and experts from company’s you admire locally are far more likely and more willing to give you their time.
Try sending out a short email to potential mentors, telling them a little bit about yourself, your start-up, your plans and why you are reaching out to them. Never use template or generic email and always take the time to get to know a person through their blog or website. This way, you can personalise your emails and prove you have a genuine interest in a person and what they do.
Make The Most Out Of Your Relationship
Don’t bombard your mentor with huge, rambling emails and demand to meet up right from the offset. You’re likely dealing with a busy person and these kinds of demands will simply get you ignored. Instead, start off by building a simple but progressive email relationship with your mentor, asking follow up questions each time you compose your replies.
Once you’ve built up a good email relationship, ask to see them for 30 minutes in a place that’s convenient for them. Be realistic and understand that they are giving you their time for free.
Eventually you’ll find that you need your mentor less and less but it’s still good to keep them in the know. Be sure to send regular, short updates (every month or so) to let them know how you are getting on and how their mentoring has benefited you.
Whilst most decent mentors will never ask you for any kind of monetary reward for their help, you may want to consider offering them a small stake in your business, especially if they have given up a considerable amount of their time.
Great mentors understand the impact they can have on a young start-up. A helping hand can open the kind of doors that would have never been available otherwise and that’s why they are so important for new entrepreneurs.