When starting a business, it is best to gain as much exposure and expertise from outside sources as possible, from people who are experienced and proactive in your industry or sector. A business mentor can prove an invaluable resource as time goes on and provide guidance in how to get started in your business and how to move forward.
For many startups or entrepreneurs finding their feet, they will try to go it alone and may hit bumps along the journey. This is natural and inevitable when first starting out in business but how much better can your business be by finding someone that you can be accountable to, who can push you in the right direction and help you scale up your business to see real success?
It’s important when looking for a business mentor to find someone that is right for you. There are many experts out there but finding someone that relates to your needs and personality is vital in the relationship working and being successful. Look for someone who is confidential, influential and is interested in you, rather than the love of money and what they can get from you.
This will provide you with balance and assurance that your business is heading in the right direction, that you have someone mentoring you that has interest in what your business does and how you do it – and do it right.
Depending on where you are in your business, it may mean that you require more than one mentor to help you through different sections. You may have one that helps you get started and into the right mindset and then moving onto a new mentor when you know and understand the direction you are going in. Once you have reach a certain goal or target, this may bring you onto a different level meaning you need to once again find a mentor who understands where you are now. Mentors can provide different services and guidance, depending on what you need at the time. Don’t be afraid to move on and to build new relationships.
So, if finding a mentor for your business is so important, how and where can you find them?
1) Seek clarity
Before you speak to anyone or reach out on any level, you need to be clear about what you want to achieve from working with a mentor. What role do you want them to play in your business, in your life and career? Do you want someone who is going to connect you with a network, who can you put you in front of the right people? Do you want someone who is simply going to give you advice for you to act upon? Discovering your goals and expectations will guide you in finding the right mentor that will help you manage those goals and steer you in the direction you want to go.
Once you have found a mentor that are happy working with, make sure you’re both on the same page and they know your expectations and what you hope to achieve from working together. Set regular meetings and schedules to keep you on track and to keep you accountable.
There are many places to find a mentor but the most obvious one to start with would be within your own personal network, your circle of contacts. As you build a network of people around you, many of these people are influential and expertises in their niche. This gives way to speaking with them to see if they would be a good fit to becoming a mentor or can recommend anyone they know who would be.
Dive into your address book and contacts, think through family friends and people you’ve met over the years. Would any of these be a good fit to push you forward in business?
3) Social Networks – LinkedIn
If you’re part of any social networks there will be a ray of people who surround you that could be potential candidates however you need to be selective in this approach. You can speak up on your social platforms and let people know that you are looking for a mentor but we recommend using your LinkedIn network of connections to look for a suitable mentor. LinkedIn is a professional platform, geared towards work, careers and being successful. Here you will find people who have the same passions as you, who you can aspire to, who you can look up to and respect along with seeing a potential to work with to give you accountability.
Within LinkedIn, you can join professional groups and discussions that will connect you with successful entrepreneurs and business owners who have been in your position and share your passion for growth and success. You can connect with other entrepreneurs and startups by using the search function.
It is always good to send a personal message with any connection (note, you cannot do this if you’re using a mobile phone app) but via your laptop or desktop computer you will be able to send messages when connecting with individuals. You only get 300 characters in your message if you are a free member, but by crafting a professional message, most people will connect with your request. Once you have received that connection, you are able to send a more meaningful message of why you have connected them and if they would be interested in being a mentor to you. From here, it may take a few messages back and forth but this is all relationship building and establishing a trust and understanding on whether you would be a good match.
The internet is a gold mine. Search for everything related to your niche; journalists, influencers, practitioners, speakers, writers, business owners etc. From here, make contact with each person you find that looks like they could be a potential mentor for you. Be open in your communications and let them know who you are, why you are contacting them and why you think they would be a good mentor for you to grow your business. From the responses given you will get a feel for their tone and the way that they’ve handled your request. Don’t stop the communication there, pursue every lead until you reach a point where you think you could really see yourself moving forward and coming under their wing. If they’re not a good match, it’s been a good exercise in reaching out and researching. You could even ask if there is anyone they would recommend who may be willing and able to help you.
These steps are all about building relationships and networks, you are getting your name seen by influential people who later on down the road, may remember having this first conversation with you and be a person of interest as your business expands.
5) Look for strengths
When you’re looking for a mentor, you need to find someone that has strengths where you have weakness. It’s ok to not be good at everything, everyone has their own weak points but having a mentor who can pick you up on these and show how to change your perceptions can help you get past the weaknesses. Working with someone who can help fine-tune your strengths will also steer you in the right direction. If you find someone who has a similar business model or is proactive in a way that you can relate to, you’ll be more attentive and have a positive attitude to working with them and listening to what advice they give. When you find someone who you enjoy working with – you’ll see better results.
Entrepreneurs need to be open when it comes to finding a mentor, this could mean being willing to do things outside of your comfort zone or getting creative in ways that they are not used to doing. Expanding your skills in this way will help you build confidence and reach out to more people, raising the standard of business owners you communicate with as well as gaining more experience that will be valuable to your own business growth.
Finding the perfect match is like finding your soulmate, when you find the right person, you will know. Keep going until you find the right one, it is the same in any relationship and mentoring is no exception. When you do find the right mentor for you, your results and success will prove that – when you have a desire to succeed, you keep going until you do.
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