“Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime.” The concept of mentorship could not be any better defined. As an entrepreneur, finding a good mentor is a major building block to create the successful business you are striving for.
While everyone can use a mentor in my opinion, the benefits that the right mentor can bring to an entrepreneur are even greater.
The key reason for this is that there are no right answers when you’re creating something and running it on your own. Instead you can try and use the market’s best practices, feedback from valued employees that you’ve brought on board and then of course the constant input from colleagues, friends and family. But the truth is, none of these people may actually understand where you’re coming from, what you’re dealing with and what needs to be done in order to continue to grow your business.
If you don’t naturally fall into a mentor mentee relationship you’re going to need to approach someone that you feel could make a difference in your life and more importantly in your business know how. When searching out the best mentor for you, there are a few aspects that I personally think are critical to look for.
A mentor who has walked miles in your shoes has already passed the trials and tribulations that you’re about to face or have been dealing with and has been able to conquer them. You can’t put a price on having a map to your treasure, or at least a guide of sorts versus navigating blind.
A mentor who has taken an idea and turned it into a business understands the stress, anxiety, fear, excitement, highs and lows that are experienced day in and day out. Talking out these issues with someone that can listen but more importantly provide advice can bring some sense back to the chaos that you may find yourself in and help you remember that you’re not in this alone.
A mentor who has made contacts and connections to increase business success to date and knows where and how to get things done. If this person is in the same field you’re in an even better place with the ability to increase your network with the help of a mutual source that is trusted by all parties.
A mentor who will give it you straight. Coddling or softening the inevitable blows that an entrepreneur consistently faces will not help you. As William Arthur Ward said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
A mentor who can help you grow but is also looking to personally continue to grow by sharing their experience, know how, contacts and lessons learned with their mentee. I have been lucky enough to mentor individuals that I have partnered with in creating the companies here at Wish Group and have found on the flip side that I have gained new perspectives, energy and amazing personal relationships that would not have otherwise existed.
If you’re able to source a short list of people that you feel fit these criteria what are you waiting for? Find a way to establish contact. Use mutual contacts you may have to make an introduction, reach out via LinkedIn or send the person an email with a brief background and your thoughts followed by an invitation for coffee to meet in person.
I know that we’re all extremely busy and an entrepreneur has little to no time for day to day operations let alone setting up time to meet and talk to someone that is not directly affecting your bottom line. With this in mind I would still have you think long and hard about one question. Would you rather eat for a day, or would you like to feed yourself for a lifetime?
Best of luck,