Nobody makes it alone in this world, even if they give the appearance of doing so. Whether they use a leadership coach, a business mentor or just an experienced friend or partner to act as a sounding board, every successful person has someone who helped them get there.
It might be said that behind every successful entrepreneur is an incredible business mentor!
Here are some tips on how to find a business mentor worth having.
The first place to look (and often the most overlooked) is in one’s inner circles — one’s family and friends. You can either ask them directly to become a business mentor to you if they are themselves successful in business. Or you could ask them to introduce you to anyone they might know that could act as a business coach to you.
In the matter of family and friends, it often occurs that they inadvertently become your mentor without either of you even realising it. If you have a relative or friend that you have always gone to for advice about business, and that advice has worked, then they are already your mentor!
There’s no need to “officialise” it. Just keep doing what you’re doing and getting their assistance.
You might want to establish a regular time when the two of you could get together for a coffee to bash out ideas. If they’ve been mentoring you all your life, they likely would be interested in taking a more active role in whatever venture you choose to embark in.
Too many people think that finding a mentor needs to be highly formal. It doesn’t.
If you see someone successful in your network and are curious about how they achieved that success, send them an email and ask them.
You’ll either get a friendly, supportive answer that ends off with, “Ask me anything, any time.” Or you’ll get no answer at all or a curt answer.
If it’s the former, boom, then you probably have a mentor.
Mentor sessions don’t need to belong. Fifteen minutes or an occasional email is enough because they are sharing with you all the diamonds of their experience which were found over many years of searching.
Again — networking. When it comes to finding a mentor, nothing beats networking.
Follow the same approach as you did when approaching people directly in your network. Ask questions of potential mentors and judge the responses you get. If someone shows an interest in what you’re doing, they might inadvertently become a mentor to you somewhere down the line.
Always follow a professional approach to being someone’s protege. Just as the mentor brings you value, so should you bring value to them. Mentors like working with people who show promise, have gusto and are willing to take the mentor’s advice and go with it, possibly even spicing that advice up with improvements.
In this way, the mentor also learns things.
More often than not, you will discover that local leaders are more than willing to share their experience with anyone in the area who shows promise.
True leaders are not individuals who sit somewhere on a pedestal and give orders. Real leaders are approachable. They are easy to talk to. They are willing to help.
Indeed, true leaders are also extremely busy people, and getting a session with them might be difficult!
But remember that mentorship is a two-way street. The mentor will also learn things from you. It is up to you to present yourself in a way — whether through a cold email or a phone call to their secretary — that catches the mentor’s interest.
Use respect when speaking to local leaders. Be polite. The leader does not owe you anything. Always take an approach of humility rather than one of haughtiness or arrogance.
There are online communities of mentors as well. Many of these communities are filled with professionals in their field who have decided to give some of their experience back to people who show promise.
Start My Business also has one such business mentor service where we link you up with experienced professionals who are likely to provide insightful mentorship advice to you.
Whether online or in-person, the bond between a mentor and protege becomes a strong one. Just as you might be proud to call someone a mentor, they will be proud to tell others of you when you reach your height of success.
Mutual cooperation and respect are the keynotes of successful mentorship. The best mentors give advice and don’t expect that advice to be followed blindly. They are even happy when the advice is altered or completely changed, so long as you learned something.
The essence of great entrepreneurship is to push the envelope and do things that have never been done before.
The best mentors are proud when you evaluated their advice for yourself and did what you thought was best at the end of the day.