Starting a new business is not easy & requires you to have well-developed plans & ideas. But being a first-timer, you are likely to make some common mistakes. This will cost you money, energy & resource, something that you cannot afford. Moreover, it can be a lonely experience to be a CEO/founder & performing every task on your own is tough. You do need to have a reliable support network to sail through rough times. You can take the help of business mentors. They are experienced, talented & knowledgeable enough to provide you with feasible solutions to overcome business problems. The mentor will also broaden your network & fill up knowledge gaps present. Hence, it is crucial to find a good mentor, who can take your startup business to the next level.
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How to find a mentor – Characteristics to look into
- Experienced founder/CEO: You need to choose someone having solid exposure & startup experience. A manager having corporate experience can engage in an interesting discussion focused on diverse management challenges. The mentor will also be able to relate to multiple challenges commonly faced by startups.
- Honesty: The startup mentor that you plan to choose should be honest & reliable. He/she should have a strong personality who should be direct in approach and not sugarcoat things. He/she should not be that ‘Yes’ man for all you undertake. He/she should have the guts to oppose poor strategies & ideas and come up with unique, workable ones. You should feel comfortable & confident with your mentor & develop a close relationship.
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- Go big: If you admire someone & look up to him/her for inspiration, you can request the person to become your business advisor. Don’t worry, if the person seems to be disinterested in your proposal. However, in the process, you are likely to develop some sort of healthy relationship. You may feel somewhat intimidated to approach your ‘hero’. A better way to engage with the person & to catch his/her interest & attention is to ask for advice.
- Use professional groups & network: As a startup entrepreneur, you need to expand your existing network. A better way to achieve this is to link with professional associations or attend events. Here, you can come across successful entrepreneurs & experts with whom you can establish a strong connection. You can also take the help of the alumni network from past companies or universities to get connected to business mentors. You will be able to reach out to a good mentor by having common link. Some universities do offer mentorship programs, in which you can enroll.
- Acceleration programs & incubators: These are excellent pools to dig into, to avail of experienced & talented startup mentor. You can reach out to these professionals & learn from them. You can also be part of an incubation program where you can find something to fit perfectly your business. The experienced & knowledgeable manager or business advisor can guide you to help grow your startup. You get to work with numerous people during the acceleration & incubation process. These people are likely to come from different backgrounds.
Also Read: Top 10 Essential Roles of a Startup CEO
- Online tools: There are dedicated sites such as Micromentor or business platforms like LinkedIn, which provides diverse opportunities. You can link with people belonging to your industry and also overcome specific problems that you may face. But you might experience some challenging issues with online contacts. At the same time, you can derive diverse possibilities. If you plan to expand your business further aboard, then you can find someone from your industry. The professional can help you to benefit from international cultural differences.
Hence, going through the above tips will help you to know how to find a mentor.