Category Archives: Entrepreneur

5 Things to Look For in a Mentor

A mentor is an invaluable resource for the young entrepreneur. A mentor is someone who has taken the journey you want to take, someone who’s been there before. They are a valuable resource who you can turn to when you’ve hit a stumbling block. So, how do you get one?

There are plenty of places where entrepreneurs gather: conferences, MeetUp groups, online communities.

Here are our top 5 things to look for when trying to find a mentor:

1. Chemistry

If you’re going to be working with a mentor, you want good chemistry. You want someone you feel comfortable talking to and confiding in. Before you consider an specific entrepreneur as your mentor, do some research on them. What do they value? What kind of business do the have? What do people have to say about working with them? Chances are, if they’re in a similar business as you, they’ll have similar values.

Before you ask them to be your mentor, meet with them for coffee. See how you get along.

2. Availability

It’s no secret that entrepreneurs are busy people. When looking for a mentor, you need to find someone who is available to help you. When searching for your mentor, do fool around. Ask them if they’re interested in mentoring. Ask them if they have the time to take that on. There is another person involved here. They should know their limitations. In that same vein, figure out what you want from your mentor. Do you want to meet for coffee once a week, once a month? Do you want to go out to dinner twice a week? Do you want to be able to call them at any time? Figure out what your time demands are and see if their availability matches.

3. A positive attitude

This might seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised. Feel out your potential mentor. If you’re sensing some hidden resentment, it’s probably there. You want someone who will encourage you and help you grow. Don’t let a negative mentor drag you down. On the flip side, be careful that you don’t mistake cautious optimism and a realistic thought with negativity. Even if a mentor has a reserved opinion, they can still be helpful for your navigation of the startup world.

4. Respect

Does your new mentor treat you as an equal? Or are they condescending? Even if you’re a young or new entrepreneur, you still deserve respect. Find a mentor that will treat you as an equal. They should hear you out; all your thoughts, fears, concerns, and plans are valid. You should also have a high level of respect for them. If not, why did you want them to be your mentor in the first place?

5. Open mind

Just because your mentor has been through the startup/entrepreneurial process, doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do it. You want to find a mentor who can recognize there are different ways to achieve a goal. Someone who says, “This is how we did it. Your way might work, too.” You don’t have to take every piece of advice they give you as gold. You want someone whose experience you can learn from, not someone who will just tell you what to do.

What do you look for in a mentor? Where did you find your mentor?

Share in the comments below!

The 20 Most Common Job Interview Questions

o-JOB-INTERVIEW-facebookLet’s face it. At some point in your life, you’re going to have to go to a job interview. And, whether that job is for pizza delivery or the CEO position in a Fortune 500, some of those questions are going to be the same.

Here’s a list of the 20 most common job interview questions you need to be ready to answer.

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

This is time for a pitch, not a narrative on your complete job history.

2. How did you hear about this position?

Make sure you mention any connections you have with the company.

3. What do you know about the company?

Make sure you do a little research before your interview so you have some things to say here.

4. Why do you want this job?

Show your enthusiasm and passion. Talk about why this position is perfect for you in particular.

5. Why should we hire you?

Again, focus on your passion and experience. If you don’t have any experience, find something else in your background that will make you stand out.

6. What are your strengths?

Focus on the positives; don’t use negative terms (like “I don’t” or “I can’t”), even if they turn into positives. Be honest. It’s not a game. Don’t try to figure out what the interviewer wants.

7. What do you consider to be your weakness?

Again, be honest. “I don’t have any weaknesses” isn’t true. If you have anecdotes, tell them how you plan on working on your weakness.

8. What is your greatest professional achievement?

Make sure you give them the situation and the assignment, so the interviewer has context for what you accomplished.

9. Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced at work, and how you dealt with it.

Like question 8, make sure you give the interviewer context.

10. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Essentially, do you have realistic goals for your career, are you ambitious, and does the position you’re interviewing for fit into your long term career goals.

11. What’s your dream job?

Another question to discuss your goals and ambitions.

12. What other companies are you interviewing with?

This time, you should be more vague. Saw you are exploring other similar opportunities that utilize the same skills and talents.

13. Why are you leaving your current job?

Keep it positive.

14. What are you looking for in a new position?

What you’re looking for should line up with what the position offers.

15. What type of work environment do you prefer?

It should be the kind of environment the position offers.

16. What’s your management style?

This gives you the chance to show you know what kind of techniques are out there and the ability to modify to a situation.

17. How would your boss or coworkers describe you?

Try to find strengths you haven’t talked about already.

18. How do you deal with stress?

Specific examples of stressful situations help here.

19. What are your salary requirements?

There are places online where you can research what someone in the position would typically get. Try Glassdoor. Or, you can even Google what they typical salary is.

20. Do you have any questions for me?

Have a few things prepared that you want to ask.

What questions do you hear most often in interviews? How do you answer any of the questions above? Share in the comments!

3 Career Tips for the Graduating Class

Graduation is still a few months away, but it’s not too early to start looking a how you want to enter the job market. So, what is the graduate going to do? Where should you start? Here are our 3 career tips for the graduating class.

1. Strategy

You want to have a goal when looking for your first job. Don’t approach it with an “I’ll take whatever I can get” attitude. How does your first job help you achieve greater career goals? Now, it might be that you don’t know what your greater career goals are. That’s okay, too. In that case, the goal of your first job will be to help determine what your long term goals are. If you really like what you’re doing, maybe this is the industry you want to stay in. If you hate it, you need to explore other areas.

2. Find an expert

You are not the first person to go on this journey. Plenty of other people have been there before. If you think you know where you want your career to go, find someone who has done it before and ask for advice. This means looking beyond your family and escaping the halls of academia. Your professors can help you if you want a career as a professor. Unless you plan on following in your parents’ footsteps, they can’t help you, either.

It’s easier than you think to find an expert. Start by going to a company website and searching through their contact information. You may not get a response on the first go, but if you’re up front about wanting to talk about an industry, many people are happy to talk about their careers.

Another way to find an expert is to go to a conference or convention. You may even be able to find a representative at a job fair.

3. Don’t go to grad school

Right away. Higher education is great and, in some cases, beneficial. But, is it beneficial in your case? Don’t commit to 5, 10, 15 more years of school unless you know that’s where you need to be.

What are your tips for the graduating class? What do you wish you knew before entering the job market? Share in the comments!

The World’s 20 Hottest Startup Scenes – Are you in one?

the-worlds-20-hottest-startup-scenes

Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber, on TWiST

The Mind-Blowing Scale of Holiday Hiring [Infographic]

holiday

Small Business Saturday is November 29

Small-Business-SaturdayFirst there was Black Friday, then Cyber Monday. November 27, 2010 was the first ever Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday is the day we celebrate the Shop Small movement to drive shoppers to local merchants across the U.S.

More than 200 organizations have already joined American Express OPEN, the company’s small business unit, in declaring the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday this year is on November 29th.

Shop Small!

5 Ways to Invest in Yourself

Are you working in a job you hate just to make ends meet? Are you afraid of taking that leap into becoming an entrepreneur? You can work in a job you love and still save for retirement. Here are our top 5 ways to invest in yourself and in your job future.

1. Go to a conference

If you have an interest in something, chances are there’s a conference about it. Getting to that conference is a great way to invest in yourself. You’ll meet people who share your interests, and, better, you’ll meet people who are working in the job you want. Talk to people. Make it known what your interests are. Don’t just walk the exhibit hall. See if you can find a group going to lunch or out for drinks. This is a great way to meet some people, but don’t forget to follow up with people.

Networking tip: Monday is the only bad day to follow up with people. Your email will be lost in the shuffle of the new week.

2. Participate in local events

Whether it’s a local performance, a gym class, or a local Meetup.com group, you should find ways to get out into your local community to start making connections. If you don’t tend to be a very social person, set some goals for yourself and ease into it.

3. Take a class

Improving yourself is a great way to invest in your future. What’s something you wish you’d learned but never did? Find the time to take a class or get a tutor. It doesn’t have to be applied astrophysics. Language tutors are everywhere. Community colleges offer a variety of classes to choose from. Pick something you think you’ll enjoy and dive in.

4. Earn a certification

If your dream job is in a field that requires a certification, there’s no reason to wait. It’s just another way of investing in yourself and your future.

5. Take a Myers-Briggs test

The Myers-Briggs personality test was developed as a career placement tool. It can give you insight on where you draw energy from, how you best interact with people, and what kind of working environment you’re best suited for. Finding your personality type will give you a glimpse of yourself and can help you grow.

What are some ways you have invested in yourself? Share in the comments!

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Why you should listen

Fascinated by the leaders who make impact in the world, companies and politicians with the capacity to inspire, Simon Sinek has discovered some remarkable patterns in how they think, act and communicate. He wrote Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action to explore his idea of the Golden Circle, what he calls “a naturally occurring pattern, grounded in the biology of human decision making, that explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages and organizations over others.” His newest work explores “circles of safety,” exploring how to enhance feelings of trust and confidence in making bold decisions. It’s the subject of his latest book, Leaders Eat Last.

An ethnographer by training, Sinek is an adjunct of the RAND Corporation. He writes and comments regularly for major publications and teaches graduate-level strategic communications at Columbia University.

What others say

“I try to find, celebrate and teach leaders how to build platforms that will inspire others. ” — Simon Sinek

Start With Why

startwithwhyWhy are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty?

In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way-and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why.

Drawing on a wide range of real-life stories, Sinek weaves together a clear vision of what it truly takes to lead and inspire.

How to Host a Successful Work Retreat

Sometimes, a startup is only as good as the team you’ve built. In honor of the team and the dreaded team-building exercises, today we talk about how to host a successful work retreat.

1. Gauge and/or excite your team’s interest

When you mention “work retreat,” many people start to figure out their excuses on how to get out of it. While that may not always be the case, before you start planning a work retreat, mention it around the office. Find out what kind of work retreat people would actually want to go on. If you open up a dialogue about the possibilities rather than dictate what is going to happen, your team will already start to feel the excitement.

Remember, you want your retreat to improve morale, not destroy it.

2. Bring good food

This may sound odd, but you want to get a good food spread. It’s important to keep you team fueled and fueled in a way that they want. Get some stuff for the health nuts as well as the food junkies. Make sure the coffee flows free. This isn’t a seminar or a conference, this is supposed to be a time for you and your team to get to know one another. They will congregate around the food table.

And, on that note:

3. Encourage social time

A work retreat is not a lecture.

Read that again.

You don’t have a work retreat to lecture your team. You can lecture your team at any time. Make the retreat something different. Throughout the day, have times planned when people can sit down, relax, and socialize. Lunch is obviously a big opportunity for socializing, but also try to think of other times when you can break for some social time.

4. Make an agenda

Of course, you want to know what you’re doing at your work retreat. You should make out a schedule to determine what you’ll be doing and when. But, don’t be afraid to throw out the agenda. If something is going well and people are connecting, let them lead you where you want to go. You can always pick up the other stuff later.

What are your tips on throwing a positive work retreat? Do you have a great work retreat story? Share in the comments!

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