How to Spot the Right Mentor for Your Start-up?
Updated: May 8
When Richard Branson was launching Virgin Atlantic, he reached out to Sir Freddie Laker, the pioneer of modern aviation, for advice on how to set up his business. By drawing on Sir Laker’s vast experience, Richard Branson was able to build Virgin Atlantic to a £2.5 billion business from scratch. In fact, start-up mentorship is considered the biggest cheat sheet in business to reach your goals faster with less stress. And studies show that mentored businesses are more likely to survive than those who go down this path alone.
Where does one begin?
One of the first things to consider when it comes to how to find a business mentor is to look for someone who has retraced their entrepreneurial journey. This person should be willing to share their key lessons in business management with the mentee. For the mentee, it’s a playbook of pitfalls and best practices, one that you cannot do without in your entrepreneurial journey. However, not every successful business leader is a great mentor, just like every mentor may not be a successful business leader.
Knowing how to find a business mentor who is right for you requires a fine balance between knowing your needs and knowing what a mentor can offer. Here are three steps that will help you find the right business mentor for your start-up.
• Step 1 - Self-evaluation
Once you have zeroed in on your need list, then finding the right mentor for your business is easier and faster.
• Step two - Narrow it down
The second step is to look for traits that address your needs. These might include experience in your line of business, expertise in business management, a proven track record of success, and the ability to solve problems. Additionally, the person should have a network of potential investors or customers.
• Step three - Leverage your network
The final step is to scan your environment to spot your mentor for business. You could find him/her in your alumni network, community or in a mentoring network of repute.
Activating your mentor support and nurturing, is all on you as a mentee. Having found your right fit, you will need to get proactive in initiating the contact. Invite them for coffee, have an informal chat about your situation and build the comfort level crucial to take things forward. Once the relationship is established, you will need to invest in nurturing it by providing regular feedback on your progress and staying in touch, even when the need for advice is not immediate.
Above all, you will need to make yourself worth mentoring. The mentor's joy lies in seeing results from the advice given to you, make sure you don’t waste it and deliver on your mentor's investment in you.