Business Tips: Looking For a Mentor

In the process of creating your business, one of the key things that you should put in place as soon as possible is a mentor. The responsibilities of a mentor include providing you with guidance and being a sounding board for your ideas.

According to Webster.com, a mentor is “a trusted counselor or guide”. As a business owner, adding a mentor to your team will be a very wise thing to do. Being open to mentoring is a very important step for business owners, just as a football player has to be open to his coach. Mentors are in your business life to steer you away from mistakes that can happen in a new business and to guide you towards a successful business future.

To help you learn more about mentoring, I have compiled tips from business owners to help you determine what to look for when looking for an ideal mentor.

Cristin Franks: Be sure to find a mentor who you can trust like a friend but who doesn’t intimidate you. The whole point of your start-up is to insert yourself, your true creative self. Therefore a mentor must cultivate your raw style.
Lois Zachary: Mentoring requires careful preparation. To get your relationship off to a good start, you will want to: Reflect on your purpose. Be clear about your own goals and objectives. Consider what it is you are willing to contribute to the relationship. Be willing to candidly share your needs, expectations and limits.

Identify the characteristics you are looking for in a mentor. The latter is the toughest. Picking the right mentor is necessary for successful outcomes. And it goes beyond chemistry with your mentor.

Let me explain.

The natural tendency is to zero in on chemistry when meeting with prospective mentors. If the chemistry doesn’t feel right, the inclination is to go no further.

Rather than relying on chemistry alone, I recommend using a criteria-based decision-making model. It can help you make good choices and avoid those that don’t support your talent and capability or are not otherwise in your best interests. Even if there are better choices, it is easy to bias our selection toward those that set us up for easy success.

Without some sound criteria, our decisions can be flawed, and neither you nor your mentor is truly well served.

Maria Ross: Find a mentor who is successful in the field he or she is in. You learn from success, so seek out a mentor who has done things right and has the scars to prove it. It doesn’t even matter if it’s necessarily in the business you are in, but as long as someone has built a successful career and business, he or she will be in a much better position to help and guide you than someone who is very nice with good intentions but who can’t lead you in the right direction.
Crystal Kendrick: A mentor is a role model, confidant, friend and supporter who helps a high potential person to become a more effective leader and a more well rounded individual.  The mentor is usually attached to the person and not always the company and is typically available for extended periods of time.  The focus of the mentor is usually more personal/professional and will often offer guidance based on personal experiences and learned strategies.  Mentor/mentoree relationships are developed.

Tips to make a sound choice:

  • Determine what you want to achieve from the relationship and identify a mentor who can help to achieve the goals.
  • Look to someone who is experienced and excited about the relationship
  • Don’t just look to the most successful person as a mentor.  Some of the persons who have not achieved what you believe to be “success” are actually quite knowledgeable about what it takes to be successful.
Krista Dunk: We all need mentors in some form, in all areas of our lives, if we desire to be successful. Mentors are unique in that he or she should be a person who you can have a personal relationship with. Mentors are people that you can have back and forth dialogue with, not just one-sided conversations.

  • Find someone who makes you uncomfortable, because his or her personal capacity and experience are at a much higher level than yours.
  • You must trust him or her, both personally and professionally
  • He or she should have a bigger perspective than you do
  • He or she has “been there, done that” in the area where you desire to learn
  • He or she cares about what you do and wants to see you succeed
  • He or she will speak hard truths to you in love.
Sid Kemp:

What makes a great business mentor? He or she:

  • Is capable and knowledgeable
  • Is open-minded – not directive and telling you what to do
  • Good at explaining choices and consequences
  • Helps you think for yourself
  • Has a successful track record, but does not appear to be perfect
  • Knows his or her limitations
  • Helps you plan and decide
  • Helps you make connections
DeAnna Troupe: It’s absolutely essential to have a mentor when you’re building your own business. It may even be helpful to have more than one. Here are some things to look for in a mentor.

You want to find a mentor that has expertise in a certain area of business. Run away quickly from the person that claims to be an expert at all areas of business. If you need help in marketing, find someone who is an expert in marketing. If you need help with financing your business, find someone with experience in that. You will get much better results when you deal with a specialist instead of a generalist.

It’s also important to find a mentor that doesn’t clash with your personality style. In other words, if you’re the type of person that does better when guided to the answer, you don’t want a mentor that basically tells you what to do and doesn’t give you choices. You may have to go through a few mentors before you find one that fits.

You also want someone that actually has more business experience than you do. I know this seems kind of obvious, but nowadays a lot of people are calling themselves mentors even though they don’t have a lot of business experience. Be sure to check the person’s credentials.

Posted in Business Management, Passionate Business, Startup Business
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One comment on “Business Tips: Looking For a Mentor
  1. Dan says:

    Thanks for sharing some great tips to use when chosing a mentor. One prevailing theme seems to be ensuring you find a mentor who has the level of success you’re seeking. I would certainly echo that sentiment. There are plenty of “mentors” out there who sell programs that don’t deliver results.

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