Yes, you can read the best entrepreneurship books and blogs, but they will only give you generic business advice. And there’s no shortage of family, friends, acquaintances willing to give you a steady flow of unsolicited advice regarding your business.
You can also hire industry analysts, consultants, and employees to get expert information on dealing with particular situations. However, the most impactful form of guidance and advice for an entrepreneur comes from real business mentors.
A real-life business mentor shares hands-on wisdom with you on an ongoing basis, helping you avoid common pitfalls in business and achieve success faster.
1.Expert Knowledge and Outlook
You can gain plenty of knowledge by reading the right books and articles. However, a mentor will give you specific knowledge which might be hard to find in any other resources.
When you have a challenging project, you can ask your mentor for advice on what to do. With their wealth of experience, gained from working on similar projects, they will expertly guide you on what to do to get the best outcomes.
This makes your work easier and increases your chances of succeeding. As leadership speaker J Loren Norris says “If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before.”
2. Networking Opportunities
Due to having many more years in business, a mentor comes with an unlimited network of helpful contacts who might benefit you as entrepreneur.
With just one call, they can connect you to the right people for production or distribution of your products, to get financing, to get the right licences and so on.
A good mentor will also give you valuable feedback on your networking skills and gives you advice on how to improve on any problematic areas.
3. Reassurance and Hope
Many young entrepreneurs battle self-doubt and question their ability to succeed in business. These feelings might lead to imposter syndrome, where an entrepreneur feels unworthy of their success.
Having a mentor to listen to your worries, and placate your unfounded fears with their years of experience can reassure you that you’ll be successful...and that you truly deserve your accomplishments.
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As billionaire Oprah Winfrey says, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself. A mentor is someone who allows you to know that no matter how dark the night, in the morning joy will come. A mentor is someone who allows you to see the higher part of yourself when sometimes it becomes hidden to your own view.”
Even after setting goals and having a great plan on how to achieve them, most of people, including entrepreneurs, have trouble following through. A mentor can help keep you accountable to your goals and business objectives.
Without telling you what to do, a great mentor helps you set the key objectives and then holds you accountable to working towards them. They will gently admonish you if you fail to meet objectives due to laziness on your part.
How to find a mentor
Create a checklist of the skills and attributes you would like in a mentor
It is important that you find the right mentor to suit your business and personal style. Before you set out to look for a mentor, make sure that you understand exactly what you want from a mentor.
Do you need networking opportunities? Do you want advice on building your business? Are you looking for someone with expertise in a certain field?
Different people will bring different sets of skills and varied perspectives to the mentorship experience, so you have to be clear on what you want. Bear in mind that as a mentee, your needs will evolve over time.
Although you can have different mentors for different phases of your entrepreneurship, it is best to look for someone who can mentor you for an extended period of time.
Attend local business networking events or scour social media
You have to show them your dedication by being active in relevant discussions. Business incubators and accelerators are also a great place to look for mentors.
While it doesn’t hurt to aim for the top, don’t ignore the moderately successful potential mentors...after all, they can end up connecting you to the right opportunities. Be on the lookout for an older entrepreneur with plenty of practical experience and dedication to mentoring newer entrepreneurs.
After finding a mentor, remember to be a good mentee
Be a good listener who is open to new ideas and perspectives. Later, after benefiting from having great mentors and making your business a success, make sure you pay it forward by mentoring other entrepreneurs.
Ideally, a business mentor should be someone who has more entrepreneurial business experience than you. They should be willing and able to be your trusted business confidante over an extended period of time, usually without charging any fees.