It's hard to truly grow in business without a mentor. Business mentors provide a sounding board, helping to amplify your results. They help to guide you through the oftentimes-murky waters in the entrepreneurial world while you navigate the storms. They help to mitigate the risks that might occur when you move out past your comfort zone. If you've never considered a mentor in business, then now is the perfect time to do so.
Yet, the question that plagues most is the following. How do you actually go about finding a business mentor? How do you locate someone that'll help you avoid pitfalls and navigate your way to success? It isn't easy. Let's just say that. Especially if you're an introvert. The best way to do it? Get out there. Network. Communicate. Add value to the lives of others. Don't just look to take. Give. And do it wholeheartedly.
You see, finding a business mentor isn't something that happens randomly. It happens by connecting with others on a higher level. It involves surrounding yourself with great minds. It occurs at masterminds events or marketing conferences. In hallways and auditoriums. But, it's never random or by chance. And you can't simply ask someone to mentor you. It doesn't quite work that way. No. Never ask. Especially not right off the bat.
Think about it this way. Would you ask someone to marry you on the first date? Would you ask someone to be your business partner only after meeting them once? Of course you wouldn't. Keep in mind that being a business mentor takes considerable amounts of effort. It's not just something that most people take lightly. Now, I've been blessed to have some incredible mentors in my life, but they didn't become my mentors out of the blue.
I added value first. And so should you. You can't just approach someone and ask them to help you. Instead, look for ways you can help them. Can't think of any? You're not thinking hard enough. Find a way. Find something. A way to add value. To improve their lives. To connect them with someone or give them something they couldn't readily meet or find on their own. What value can you bring to the table? That's the key.
I could likely drill off dozens of reasons why mentors are invaluable in your journey as an entrepreneur. But, there are only 10 that truly matter here. I spoke with Lee Richter, an innovator in business, and CEO of Richter Communications and Design Group. She was recently recognized by the San Francisco Business times as one of the Top 100 Women Business Leaders in 2017.
I spoke with Richter to gain more insight into why everyone needs a mentor in business and how particularly to go about finding one. Her thoughts on finding a mentor? Tap into your personal or business network. Don't just reach out to big names out of the blue. That will hardly work. Have someone introduce you. You're more likely to succeed that way. You have to develop a relationship with that person. Whomever it might be, that's going to take time. Remember, don't focus on the short game. This is about long-term gains.
If you have it in your mind that you can't succeed without a particular mentor in your corner, you'll likely fail. Keep in mind that this isn't actually about you. It can't be a one-way street of receiving value. Always ask how you can help that person first and foremost. Always. It has to be a two-way street. Richter says that's the best way you'll find a business mentor. Hands down.
1. It shortens your learning curve
The truth is that there's no manual to business success. There's no guide book or road map that tells you that if this plus this happens turn to page 382 and do this. Nope. Nothing like that. You have to roll with the punches. You have to fall down and get up again. And, sure, you learn. But, what if you had a mentor that could help you shorten your learning curve?
What if you could lean on someone who's been through the so-called ringer? What would they tell you to do? How would they advise you to act? What things would they tell you to be wary? What type of legal or accounting or employee management advice would they give you?
Richter says that mentors can drastically shorten your learning curve. They can tell you what to do and what not to do. And, more importantly, when you do make a big mistake, they can show you how to recover gracefully. Not give up. But, how to pick up the pieces and keep striding forward. That's what matters. That's what counts.
2. Business mentors expand your network
Often, when you're dealing with a mentor who's well connected in business, it offers an extension to your own network. It's a way to skip the proverbial line. A way to connect quickly with others. They know people in business that can be reached far quicker than you could reach them yourself. Why do you think so many people want to do business with the investors in Shark Tank? Not just for the money. But, for who else they know that they can bring to the table.
3. You gain new insights
How can you approach your market in a way that will set your company apart? What's the best way to position your product or service? How can you create scarcity? What type of copy works best? These are all insights that a business mentor can help you with. They'll give you actionable information that you can use and leverage as you seek to grow and expand and push forward with your efforts.
4. Allow you to test ideas
Mentors bring experience to the table. They can help you test ideas. They can help you look at something far more objectively than you could. They'll help you be honest and straightforward without sugarcoating things. If an idea doesn't make sense, they'll tell you why. If it does, they'll help you test it out. They know how to sample markets and test conversions and understand the cause-and-effects of certain actions in business.
5. Give you someone to ask for help
It's hard to ask for help. Especially when you're struggling to keep your head above water. But, having a mentor gives you a person to reach out to. A person to ask for help when you need it most. And that's what they're there for. It's not something to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Everyone suffers and everyone fails. But, having someone there that can help you could completely change the trajectory of your company and your ability to succeed.
6. Learn from other's mistakes
Most successful entrepreneurs have failed. They've made mistakes. Thus, they can offer advice based on those mistakes. They can tell you what to do and not to do. They can give you sound advice and guidance based on their own personal mishaps. That could help you avoid repeating those same mistakes or even understanding how to fix them should they actually occur.
7. Offers an accountability partner
There's nothing like being held accountable to another person. Especially to a person who's achieved success in business. And that's precisely what a business mentor can offer you. Accountability. There's simply no substitute for it. It's like trying to lose weight. Wouldn't you prefer having a trainer or a coach there by your side while you fought the perilous fight? Of course you would.
8. Your own private cheerleader
Your business mentor wants to see you succeed. They're there to cheer you on. I can tell you from personal experience that it's a good feeling. Especially on the days when you feel down and out. When you don't feel like putting in the effort, they're there to remind you why you absolutely should do that.
9. Offer you more credibility
If you do somehow manage to grab a big-named business celebrity in your corner, it will offer you more credibility. Sure. That much is true. While that shouldn't be why you have a mentor, it does help. It does lend credibility to whatever venture you're involved in. Definitely.
10. Provides an avenue for sharing knowledge
You can easily share knowledge with your mentor. He or she can help you make sound decisions based on the information that you offer. That's crucial in this cut-throat world of business that we live in. Sharing that knowledge with others isn't always going to be beneficial to you. But, with a mentor who's genuinely on your side, it will be. They can guide and steer you in the right direction and help you to ultimately succeed no matter what line of business you're in.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors