Why do you need a business mentor for your start up?
Mentors not only help guide you through the uncharted waters of growing your baby business, but if you choose correctly, your mentor will be able to open doors and connect you with people and opportunities you otherwise would not have access to. The right mentor can help you avoid amateur mistakes and provide guidance from a “road already traveled” perspective.
So, how do you choose a mentor?
- Understand what makes a great mentor – The greatest mentors will never actually tell you what to do, but act as the gentle guiding hand if you get off course. You want a mentor who challenges you and forces you to take a good look at your business and clearly define your goals. But you also want one who will step back and let you make your own decisions so that you learn the best way to grow your company.
- Look locally – instead of reaching out to the busiest, most successful mentors you know, try looking a little closer to home. Someone in your office space or industry is usually a better fit, as it gives mentors a personal connection with you and your business and can lead to a more beneficial long term relationship. A good approach is to first research your mentor and the company: read tweets, blogs, websites, etc. and find common ground to address in your initial email. In the email, introduce yourself, your start up, and why you are reaching out to that particular person. While it may seem like a good idea to suggest meeting up for coffee, don’t assume that your mentor has that time away from the office. Instead, offer a meeting in his office, and bring coffee with you.
- Nurture the relationship – once you have established a relationship, keep it going with monthly email updates as to your company’s progress and how you have implemented your mentor’s suggestions. Keep the emails short and to the point, don’t ask for too much at one time, but always ask at least one question to ensure the conversation will continue. Suggest regular meetings - about once a quarter for thirty minutes is reasonable.
Keep in mind that finding the right mentor may take some time, but don’t give up. Follow the steps above and keep your eyes open for the right person to come across your path. When the timing is right for both parties, a successful business relationship will be able to develop.