If you are thinking of creating a company, be it a startup or a micro-business, the best investment you can make is to spend some time finding at least one business mentor. And if you already created it and are thinking about how to grow your business, too!
The math does not fail: 70% of businesses that have a mentor survive twice as long as those that do not have a mentor. Incubators and accelerators have mentors for good reason.
In fact, leaving a budget item to hire mentors is rarely contemplated in the business plan and, nevertheless, it should be something almost mandatory to increase the chances of success of your business.
As they say, white and in the bottle… Let’s see, if having a mentor is one of the ingredients for success, I say that it will be necessary to make it easier for the greatest number of entrepreneurs to obtain a mentor.
Normally the entrepreneur is provided with the forms and the Treasury address to pay taxes. But rarely does anyone ask you if you have validated your idea, if you have a business model, if you are clear about how you are going to make money, much less send you out to find your first 3 clients before starting to move papers, create the page website and business cards.
- Having someone more expert by your side who has already navigated the same waters that you navigate can accelerate your results exponentially, avoiding numerous headaches.
- You can make serious mistakes due to inexperience and making the wrong decisions can ruin your life. You can sign a wrong partner agreement, you can end up in debt or lose all your capital, leaving you with no opportunity to rebound and get ahead.
- Managing a business both at the beginning and in the growth phases is a very lonely and misunderstood task that can affect your relationship with your partner, family or friends. Having a mentor by your side keeps you sane and motivated to have clarity and focus on what is truly important.
I am convinced that in time, especially when starting a business, having a mentor will be as natural as having a cell phone.
The only problem many times is that, outside of incubator programs, accelerators, etc., it is not obvious to find a business mentor who has real experience in the area you need and who has the right personal skills.
Despite this, you can find your ideal mentor if you know how to look for him. Of course, you should not take the process lightly. It’s a matter of common sense:
- Define in advance what you need and what you are looking for
- Know what to ask your mentor
- Choose the most suitable mentor for you with whom you really connect.
- Be clear about goals and expectations.
- Remember that your schedule is complex and your time is limited.
- Do not get angry if they say no since not everyone will be able to attend to you.
Once you have this clear, it will be easier for you to put “the radar” and be aware of detecting possible ideal mentors.
Here are 7 ideas for finding your ideal mentor:
1. Analyze Your Closest Circle
On many occasions you can find excellent mentors within your family or close friends, people who may have more experience than you or know more about a particular sector or situation because they have already been through it. Likewise, you can send a message to your network of contacts proposing the idea and see if you connect with a suitable person for you and your needs.
2. Use Social Networks
You can use social networks like Twitter or LinkedIn to find your perfect mentor.
Idea: contact other professionals and businessmen that you admire and ask them for advice, normally no one takes it badly, quite the opposite.
3. Read blogs and specialized publications
Read specialized publications and select the professionals with whom you connect best or from whom you learn the most. Not only do you learn with them by reading, watching or listening to them -which amounts to “indirect” mentoring- but, on occasions, you can contact them and depending on the professional you may discover that they will be happy to dedicate a few hours of their time to you.
4. Go outside
You don’t always have a potential mentor nearby, so get out there and open up to new possibilities.
Contact your Town Hall, Entrepreneurs Center or Chamber of Commerce. Do the same with initiatives related to your sector.
Analyze businesses locally in order to identify potential mentors. Once you have a selection, contact each one, start the contact by being interested in one of their own projects or interests and asking if you could ask them a few questions by phone, skype, email or even invite them for a coffee or lunch.
5. Search in your same sector
Sometimes, your own sector can be your ally. For example, you can consider contacting the person in charge of a company larger than yours, in which case you are not usually perceived as a competitor, and suggest exchanging experiences, ideas or simply asking for advice.
The key is not to be ashamed to call or send an email to the person we are interested in.
6. Create a “mastermind” group
Create a group (in person or online) with other entrepreneurs in the same phase of development and even inviting more experienced entrepreneurs can provide you with valuable experiences and prevent you from making mistakes.
It can be as simple as meeting another entrepreneur for coffee, etc. In fact, it helps me and I think that openly sharing challenges, problems and solutions is positive because we help each other and we learn.
7. Hire a professional business mentor
Hiring a professional business mentor is probably one of the best investments you can make. It will help you accelerate your results and achieve your goals sooner. At the beginning we all think that we can learn by ourselves and we hear messages that starting a business is easy or that getting ahead on the internet is a matter of magic tricks. Investing in a professional business mentor will help you learn faster and move faster with fewer mistakes.
The moral of this story is that, over time, I have realized that cheap is expensive and unconscious ignorance has no limits… like pretending that an online store works in a month without investing in advertising, SEO, etc. Only with the passage of time do we realize the atrocities we have done. That said, do not pretend to know everything or do everything yourself and ask for help if you need it. Remember that the best technology is common sense.