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:
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.
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.
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!