Of all the really important things on your checklist guiding you on what to do before and as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, one of the most important is in getting a mentor.
Ideally, if you were to choose a mentor- as you absolutely should, it should be a person who has successfully started and run their business. It would help immensely if they are in your own line of business or related. However, even if they aren’t, their deep insights and guidance on business will come in very useful. It would help if they were a family member or a friend. This way, chances are high that they have an even higher vested interest in your success. But again, like the previous point, if you cannot find one close to home, that shouldn’t worry you. A good mentor will be invested in you and your success regardless. You will find, later on in the article, how to search for and select a mentor.
A quick one before we proceed. The general rule of thumb is that mentors do not get paid. Since you are more likely to pick a mentor from a pool of people you already know, or have gotten somewhat close to enough to know them to some extent and to be known by them, they likely would not ask to be paid. This, however, isn’t always the case. Sometimes, and for various reasons, some mentors insist that you pay. It could range from lunch or dinner in a place of their choosing, or even an outright sum. In cases like this, it is wise to be as dispassionate as possible and weigh the benefits against the cost.
If, all parameters measured, you are fairly sure that what you stand to gain is justified by or far outweighs the cost, then by all means proceed. Now, whether or not you will pay to be mentored, you must be clear, from the beginning, what deliverables you want. When you say you want a mentor and someone asks you why, you shouldn’t be caught blubbering. You must be clear about everything that you want from that relationship. And you must be clear about these from the very beginning.
Ideally, if you were to choose a mentor – as you absolutely should, it should be a person who has successfully started and run their business.
What are some of the things to expect from a Mentor-Mentee Relationship?
There Must Be Intensive Listening Both Ways
In addition to times where it is absolutely clear what they are telling you, and what advice they are giving you, there are also times where, consciously or unconsciously hidden in light-hearted jokes or remarks, they say something. You must learn to listen. One major thing that may rob you of the ability to really listen, is growing too familiar with your mentor. You should avoid that. Your mentor must also be someone who listens very intently to you. You don’t want someone prescribing solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist in the first place
There Must Be Deep Questioning
Your mentor must ask deep questions. These questions are not only to understand you, why you did what you did, why you do what you do, and why you want to do what you want to do, under different situations; they are also to help you understand yourself too.
There Must Be Constructive Criticism & Advice
Your mentor must be willing to tell you hard truths in loving but firm ways. But more than that, he must also be able to advice you on what to do and how to go about getting them done- at least at the very beginning. Later on, as you grow, he must learn to trust your judgement.
There Must Trust Both Ways
You must trust their advice and judgment. It would not always make sense to you and you may not always get the answers you need at the time you need them. But hey, if you knew everything, you wouldn’t need a mentor. So, trust the process. On the flip side, they must trust you too. Trust your obedience, your loyalty, and your growth curve.
There Must Be Responsibility
Your mentor is highly successful. That is why you chose them in the first place. Chances are that they didn’t get to be that successful by sitting around all day and doing nothing. They are likely very busy. So do not expect them to babysit you through the entire process. You must take responsibility for your actions and decisions, and make the conscious decisions to grow. You must also take responsibility for updating them on your successes or failures and milestones, as often as you can.
You must trust the advice and judgment of your mentor. It would not always make sense to you and you may not always get the answers you need at the time you need them but trust the process.
We have shared some of the things to expect if you are in a relationship with a mentor. Now, the other question – How do you find a mentor?
- A highly successful mechanic would not exactly be a great mentor to a doctor where that doctor wants a mentor with experience in the medical field. You do not choose a mentor just because they are successful. Choose one who has achieved success in the field you seek to excel in.
- When looking for a mentor, look for someone you sufficiently respect and would keep respecting. And whose personality, as far as you can tell, you would love. Great inter-person chemistry is important if you must get great results.
- Another thing you should look out for in a mentor is their history. You definitely want to be associated with a person who hasn’t created his success from a past shrouded in secrecy and underhanded deals.
If you have a mentor, thumbs up to you. If you haven’t got one, what are you waiting for? Start your search now. Prospect a few people in your field and nicely ask them out for lunch. Offer something of value. You should get your questions ready for the first meet-up too.
You will succeed in business- whether or not you have mentors, if you follow certain principles. But it might take years and you will make avoidable mistakes, suffer avoidable losses, collect avoidable scars, and yet you might not succeed as much as it was within your potential to. The truth is that you will significantly multiply your chances with a mentor who has gone the road before you. Newton said he saw further than others because he stood on the shoulders of giants. Get you your own giants.