Literarily everyone needs a mentor at one stage in their life. For entrepreneurs, turning a passion into a business is the ultimate dream. But that dream doesn’t come easily. It’s hard work, and there are challenges around every corner. Fortunately, entrepreneurs don’t have to do it alone. Their chance of success increases when they find the right business mentor to guide them through certain stages of development while growing the business.
A mentor is a coach, guide, tutor, facilitator, counselor and trusted advisor. A mentor is someone willing to spend his or her time and expertise to guide the development of another person on aspects of business, or life. An effective mentor understands that his or her role is to be dependable, engaged, authentic, and tuned into the needs of the mentee.
What is the role of a Mentor?
Working with a mentor can be an invaluable experience for both parties. The mentor and mentee will likely learn new things about themselves and each other that will help them move toward business or career goals. But to make the relationship work, each party needs to understand the role they play. The mentor function comprises multiple roles;
1. A Role Model: An effective mentor is someone that is accomplished, admired and respected in his/her chosen path or position (business or career). Mentees will often look for a set of habits, approaches, style and skills that the mentor exhibits and that the mentee wishes to emulate and practice.
2. A Sponsor: Mentors are influential people in their area of expertise. One of the major roles of a good mentor involves helping the mentee to open doors, referring the mentee to other business partnerships, promoting the mentee’s business in ways possible.
3. An Advocate: Good mentors may choose to do more than just interact with their mentee. They must actively and wisely foster support for the mentee, influencing and promoting the mentee’s reputation, capabilities, and worth.
How to find a good business mentor
Mentors are indispensable when you’re launching a new business. They’ll help you understand the field you are into, guide you through what you need to do personally and professionally in order to succeed, and often just lend an ear when you need to talk about problems, issues, and successes.
There are a number of different ways to find a mentor. The most obvious is through your professional network – both on and offline. These can be a former boss, senior colleague or a friend. Other ways to find good business mentors include business conferences, seminars, professional platforms like LinkedIn and Meet-Ups.
Characteristics of a Good Mentor
A good mentor is a gift from the Universe. If you find one, do everything you can to convince them that it is worth their while to mentor you. Here are 7 characteristics (in no particular order) of a good mentor:
1. Available: Good mentors are available. They are never too busy to invest their time in you. A good mentor should be someone that is available either by phone, email or in person when needed.
2. Good Listener: By being a good listener is one of the most important characteristics of a good business mentor. By so doing, he or she enables the mentee to articulate any problem and sort things out.
3. Respectful: Each person is unique – a good mentor respect the mentee’s wishes or opinions and don’t push too hard when there advise is against the desire of the mentee.
4. Considerate: Good mentors understand that sometimes life goes wrong and they give you space to deal with life’s problems. They are sympathetic (to a point).
5. Demanding: Good mentors push you outside your comfort zone. They understand that growth occurs outside the comfort zone.
6. Good communicators: Good mentors are able to communicate complex concepts in a language you understand and are in constant communication with you.
7. Likeable: You need to like your mentor. A good mentor is someone you like being around.
If you’re building any kind of business, you are going to need advice at some point down the line. A mentoring relationship shouldn’t be entered into for its own sake, however. Map out your business goals then think about how a mentor can help you get there. Be specific about how you’d like your mentor to help.
Good mentors are hard to come by because being a mentor can be very time-consuming. Before you ask someone to become your mentor make sure you are willing to take direction from them otherwise you will just be wasting everyone’s time.