As an entrepreneur building a startup, there is no fail-safe recipe for success. Chances are good that you are experienced in your field, you have vetted your idea enough to know that there is potential, and you are feeling pretty confident that you can make the startup work.
As confident as you may be, you may not even realize what you don’t know. This is why it is so important to bolster your knowledge from experts around you. Finding experienced advisors or mentors can be invaluable to helping you navigate the waters. Whether they can help you avoid unnecessary obstacles, learn more about an industry or discipline, they can be a priceless resource for entrepreneurs.
Why Every Entrepreneur Needs Mentors:
- They have been in your situation…and succeeded. Business mentors know from experience what will work for companies in your industry. Using lessons learned throughout their entrepreneurial journey, they can give you their honest opinion about your pitch, vision, and business plan – for starters.
- Provide access to their contacts. As business veterans, these mentors have experience working with many investors, service providers, and other important resources. If you establish a close professional relationship with your business mentor, they will certainly make key introductions for you.
- Keep you on track. As a new entrepreneur, it is easy to become caught up in the minute details as you strive for perfection. Business mentors will keep you moving forward and focused on your main goal: getting to market and revenue.
There are likely great mentors right around the corner from you. But how do you go about finding one?
First, consider the people you have worked with in the past. Perhaps there is someone you already know who would make a great mentor and you just need to ask. Or, turn to the people you are in business with and ask for referrals. Another often overlooked but vital resources are the local chambers of commerce or economic development organizations in the region. They typically have people on staff or who volunteer to spend time with regional entrepreneurs or they can provide introductions. Networking events can also be a way to find others interested in similar subject matter that can be great sounding boards.
If you aren’t able to find a mentor where you live, or no one in your network has the expertise you are seeking, find one virtually. For instance, IdeaCrossing uses unique matching technology to connect entrepreneurs with business mentors in their industry.
Once you find a mentor, it is important to make time to meet with them on a regular basis, run ideas by them, and ask for advice. A successful mentoring relationship should be a conversation, not an inquisition, and always appreciate their time. In the best case, the relationship will become mutually beneficial and may result in a long-term friendship.