Mentoring programs and great mentors are easy to find nowadays. They are certainly more crucial
than ever, especially when you consider the challenges we face today. Whether you are a startup founder trying to get your company off the ground or a professional looking to reach new heights, getting the right mentor (or mentors) to help you navigate different challenges is the way to go.
Getting a mentor is rewarding in so many ways. A good mentor helps you learn quicker and allows you to skip the usual trial and error process entirely. Rather than trying to get to know the market on your own, you have someone experienced assisting you every step of the way.
The list of benefits doesn’t stop there. Mentors can also help you gain the confidence you need to stay ahead. There are still many reasons why getting a mentor is the right move to make in today’s startup landscape. In this article, we are going to go over some of the benefits of having a great mentor, along with some tips on how to find a suitable mentor for you and your company. Let’s get started…
More Benefits to Be Gained
As mentioned above, the list of benefits you can get from mentors is massive. Aside from helping you learn faster and cope with market challenges with plenty of assistance, mentors can also help to inspire you. Some of the best mentors have actually inspired the new generation of founders and professionals already; you can be a part of that select group of inspired and highly motivated people.
Mentors are also able to connect you with the right people. The best thing about working with experienced mentors is the expanded network you can immediately benefit from as soon as you
have a mentor on your side. Remember that mentors are already highly experienced in the industries they are in, which means they are also well-connected. They will know the right people to contact in every situation that you and your business face.
At the same time, mentors also help you grow without judging what you are trying to do. It is critical that you find mentors who know how to be objective and passionate at the same time. This is how you gain a huge boost in EQ and confidence. According to studies by StartupDelta, when a mentor assists a new startup founder, it increases the chances of that startup surviving its first two to five years.
It is clear that having a mentor helping you and your business to grow is highly rewarding. The big challenge now is finding the right mentor to work with. So, how can you find the perfect mentor to learn from?
A Mentor for Each Challenge
One of the first things to remember about mentorship is that you don’t have to stick with only one mentor. In fact, you shouldn’t. When I first started, I had several mentors helping me learn about specific issues and digging deeper into industry insights. This is how mentorship becomes immensely effective.
Don’t hesitate to find mentors that are known to be the best in their respective fields. Rather than trying to find a mentor that can teach you everything, it is easier – and more rewarding – to find experts in marketing, finance, management, and other specific fields to coach you. Don’t forget that those mentors bring well-developed networks and experience in their specific fields too.
Another thing to keep in mind about finding mentors to help you is the importance of finding those that you can associate with comfortably. Each professional has different approaches when it comes to solving the problems they face. Based on past projects and their achievements, you can now find mentors whose style and approaches are close to yours.
There is no point in hiring a mentor just for the sake of having one. Instead of being immensely beneficial, the mentoring program (or the relationship with your mentor) will end up creating more hurdles than doing good. Just like finding a good business partner, you have to be selective when choosing your mentors.
Take passion, interest, past achievements, and other metrics into account as you try to find the right mentors to work with. Don’t forget to gauge your comfort level with the mentors you speak to as well. You will be spending a lot of time and discussing many matters with your mentor, so that comfort level is indeed important.
When you are comfortable with the mentors you work with, the rest is easy from there. You can have open discussions, work on issues together, and learn at a much faster rate. Everything will feel easier too, allowing you to reach the new heights you aimed for sooner than you think.
Know Your Expectations
Finding a good mentor is like finding the right smartphone or laptop. You need to start with knowing exactly what you need, the cases you expect to face as you work with the mentors, and the kind of help you expect from them. When you have these details figured out, you need to let the mentors know about them as early as possible.
This is you making a clear ask to the mentors; you are stating the kind of benefits you expect from the mentor-mentee relationship. Are you hoping for regular meetings with the mentors? Do you expect to receive help connecting with the right manufacturing companies? Will 15-minute coffee meetings once a month be enough for you?
Yes, go into detail as you convey your expectations to potential mentors. Don’t worry about having ridiculous expectations; there is no such thing. After all, you are in the startup world because you have a big dream in mind. Your mentors will then give you equally-realistic feedback on what you can actually expect from them while giving you more information on the process.
Expand Your Search
The easiest way to find great mentors is through existing mentoring programs. These programs set you up with mentors that can help you the most. Establishing relationships with the mentors of your choice and beginning to benefit from that mentor-mentee relationship is easy when you choose to go down this route.
The same can be said for finding mentors through networking events. Many mentors attend networking events for the purpose of finding exciting new opportunities to explore. As long as you can present your idea in a great way (with the situation of the event in mind) you will get additional meetings and opportunities to take things further.
These two approaches are great, but they are certainly not the only ways you can find great mentors. Remember how you need to share certain things and be on the same page with your mentors? You are guaranteed at least that when you find mentors in other places. If you love playing tennis, for example, keep an eye out for opportunities on the court. If you are a huge cycling fan, you know you can find many potential mentors in the cycling world. Mentors are everywhere and connecting with them is only a matter of spotting the right opportunities to connect and jumping on those opportunities at the right time.
There is one important thing that potential mentees often neglect, and that is the importance of bringing your own value to the table. Mentoring is as much about getting benefits from the mentors as it is about delivering (or offering) value to the mentors in return. You cannot attract the best mentors without offering something in return for the benefits you get.
That value can be anything. Offering an exciting new opportunity is a good start. When your business idea is interesting to develop, the chances of getting better and higher-profile mentors also increase.
The same can be said for when you can offer an opportunity to connect with fellow entrepreneurs
and equally motivated business partners. There are also the other mentors you work with. Mentors love the opportunity to expand their network, and meeting other mentors coaching you in different fields is the kind of opportunity they are looking for. A lot of great things often happen when qualified mentors get together under the right circumstances.
Aside from these offers, you can also offer mentors a share of your business or monetary benefits. Monetary or equity incentives should be used as your last alternative, but they are indeed effective in attracting the best mentors to help you.
Expanding Your Benefits
Now that you know the benefits you can gain from top mentors and how you can attract the best mentors in various fields, it is time to discuss the next step: making the most out of the mentorship deals you get. This is something you need to do more proactively; the benefits you gain from your mentors depend highly on how you approach the mentoring opportunities from the start.
Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to get started. First, always make sure you keep an open mind when approaching a new mentor. Keeping an open mind is how you absorb more knowledge and enhances the benefits of having mentors by your side. Always arguing with, or debating with, the mentors isn’t what you want to do, is it?
You also need to learn as much about emotional skills as you do about practical ones. Remember
that success in business depends on both your ability to run your startup or company and your
intuition as the business owner. The latter isn’t so easy to master, but it is something you can learn
from the best mentors out there.
Put your business or your professional life first. Sure, there are times when simply hanging out with the best mentors is awesome. You may even get to places that you cannot access – I’m talking about the coolest hangout places and clubs in town – when travelling with your mentors. That said, there are also times when you have to set fun aside and focus on learning for the sake of your business.
Seize every networking opportunity you come across. This too is a huge benefit offered by top mentors. You will meet industry leaders, better vendors, and even new potential mentors to engage.
Always have your business card ready and treat those networking opportunities with extra care. Use the opportunities correctly, and you will end up with a wider network you can capitalise on later.
You also want to work towards learning about (and from) experience rather than studying about theories and norms. The experience that mentors bring to the table is a valuable insight that you don’t want to miss, especially if you are new to the startup scene. You can learn about practical
theories and applications from books, but you cannot amass experience the same way.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to make big leaps. It is those who dare to make those leaps that are the most successful. Let me be the first to tell you one crucial thing about venturing into the startup world: you WILL fail. Failure is a part of the process. It is actually an experience you don’t want to miss. Your failures will help shape you into someone better.
What you don’t want to do is fail without learning from the experience. Treat every failure as an opportunity to really evaluate your decisions and the steps you have taken so far. Be objective when reviewing your mistakes and find ways to avoid making those same mistakes in the future. You have your mentors to lean on whenever you need encouragement and support.
Use these tips and you will be able to benefit even more from working with the best mentors in their fields. As I said at the beginning of this article, having great mentors to guide you through the challenges in business is a necessity now more than ever. You know everything there is to know about finding the right mentors to work with and benefiting from the relationships; all that is left to do is to make that first step towards working with the best mentors.
Have you worked with mentors before? Do you have experience in trying to get help for your business? What things did you learn? Let us know in the comments below.