By: Corey Evans
Let’s face it, entrepreneurship can be extremely complicated and, with no blueprint, it can be hard to tell if you’re moving in the right direction. The best entrepreneurs look to veterans such as successful mentors for guidance. A mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor, counselor or guide that is successful in their industry. Mentors are an absolute necessity for all entrepreneurs and the benefits of having or being one is tremendous.
Mentorship is a two-way street filled with community, learning, and reciprocation. When searching for a mentor, it is important to make sure that the potential mentor is a good fit for what you are hoping to accomplish.
- Think about your goals. Before you look for a mentor, you must be able to communicate your business challenges and the goals that you are trying to achieve. A good mentor will work to understand these things, but if you are unable to communicate these points, it may be difficult for them to add value.
- Look for common ground. Mentorship is both professional and personal. There is a time commitment associated with mentorship and it’s important that you know your personality and communication style. It may prove beneficial to select a mentor that is moderately different than you to expose yourself to diverse experiences.
- Knowledge is power. Research the success and credibility of a potential mentor. Look for accomplishments and proof of work. Mentors should be able to ask and answer the right questions. A mentor can only show and teach you what they know.
- It’s not always about what you know, but who you know. Successful people have successful friends. What audience are you trying to attract? What organization would you like to be apart of? These are questions you should answer before selecting a mentor. It may be wise to select a mentor that can help you reach other important contacts.
Benefits of Mentorship
There are a variety of benefits for both parties in a mentorship.
- Establishes a supportive relationship providing impartial advice and encouragement in unfamiliar situations
- Accelerates professional development thus improving self confidence
- Provides direction and guidance based on proven and successful experience
- Expands the mentee's network of key/important contacts
- Increased level of work related fulfillment and job/role satisfaction through personal development of others
- Widens understanding of other companies/organizations, how they work, etc.
- Provides opportunity to reflect on mentors success/work, expediting and implementing successful processes for mentees; establishes a blueprint
- Enhances relationship-building skills, increasing sense of self-worth and providing mentors with an added sense of purpose
How to find a mentor
After conducting research on a potential mentor, it is time to go and make the ask. This process isn’t always so linear and sometimes works best as a natural progression.
- Find someone you want to be like and study them. Don’t be afraid to have several potential mentors. Understand where they can and cannot add value.
- Reach out to them. Set up an informal meeting over lunch of coffee. Come to this initial meeting with questions prepared and let the conversation flow naturally gaining a sense of their character.
- Evaluate the potential mentor following the meeting. Thank them for their time afterwards and, depending on how it went, ask them to schedule another meeting.
If the mentorship dynamic makes sense, then this will evolve organically. Be proactive, take initiative, ask for feedback, and commit to the process.
The best entrepreneurs have at least one mentor or have become mentors themselves. The benefits they provide to the entrepreneurial community as a whole are priceless and it’s imperative to find the right mentor for you. If you do not have a mentor then it might be time to find one!
We want to hear from you – what have you done to create a positive mentor-mentee relationship?
About Stingray Advisory Group LLC: Stingray Advisory Group LLC is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is a proud member of Local First and the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. We help businesses grow. By creating customized solutions, we empower businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools to further their development.
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