As an entrepreneur, you have a fierce independent streak. It’s how you got your business off the ground in the first place. However, there will come a time where you hit a wall when it comes to growing your business. When you reach that point in your journey, it’s important to have a business mentor to help. A mentor is anyone in your industry with more experience than you. They don’t necessarily have to be older than you, but they do need to have a deep understanding of your field of work that you don’t quite have yet.
Here are a few reasons why entrepreneurs need business mentors, and how you can find one:
Learn from past mistakes
This is one of the top reasons to have a business mentor. As an entrepreneur, you’re inevitably going to make mistakes, and that’s OK. You should always be adapting and learning, but if you can avoid some common pitfalls, you’ll be ahead of the competition.
Having a business mentor to guide you along the way will help you work smarter, not harder, which should always be your goal.
Cultivate community to really succeed
Entrepreneurs often reference their hustle and grind, in which sleep is a luxury and working all hours is the norm. However, this is a huge mistake for long-term success.
It’s important to be surrounded by like-minded individuals to truly grow your business and achieve your goals. If you don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of, you’ll get stuck in an echo chamber. Being around other, more experienced entrepreneurs will inspire you to achieve your dreams, instead of that empty “hustle” that many entrepreneurs constantly find themselves striving for.
Master mindful networking
You know the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? You guessed it; this applies heavily to entrepreneurs.
If you’re not networking, you’re potentially missing out on huge opportunities: A report says that 85 percent of jobs are filled through referrals.
Your next business connection, the key to finishing a project or a skilled freelancer is out there, and if you’re not out there with them, they will meet your competition.
This is where your mentor comes in. When you gain a trusted business mentor, you also gain their circle of connections. They can introduce you to important people, get you into events you didn’t have access to before, and show you a new side of entrepreneurship.
How do you find a mentor?
Hearing all the benefits, you’re on board to find yourself a business mentor. Great! However, quality mentors are not just hanging around, waiting for you to message them on LinkedIn.
Here’s how you can start your outreach:
Make sure to demonstrate your value
- If you don’t have anything valuable to offer a mentor in return, you’re not going to find one. Before pursuing a business mentorship, make sure that your resume is polished and your social media presence is professional
- Have a plan in mind when approaching a potential mentor, and share your intentions
Reach out to past connections
- Old bosses or co-workers are great options. If you have an established relationship, a mentorship relationship can naturally follow
- This is especially helpful if you’ve worked on the same team, so they already have a pre-established understanding of your work ethic. Just make sure you’re not in directly competing fields
Go to networking events frequently
- If you don’t have any past employers to reach out to, you can find your business mentor at a networking event. By making that effort to put yourself out there, you’ll show them that you and your business are a worthy investment of their time
- Attending networking events before finding your mentor is also beneficial. Until you find your perfect business fit, you can gain the wisdom of all the people you brush elbows with while networking
Sign up for a mentorship program online
- There are programs all over the country for entrepreneurs and small business owners who need a mentor. Start your search at the U.S Small Business Administration. You can also search “(Your Area) Startup Mentorship” to find local resources
Moving forward with a business mentor
Finding a mentor is an investment in your business and your personal development. You will avoid common industry pitfalls, excel over your competition and develop important connections. Hopefully, the skills you learn as a mentee will allow your business to flourish, so someday you can pay it forward.
Originally Sept. 7, 2018.