This is a part of a series of posts this summer, where we are highlighting ways you can work on your business or idea this summer. Plus, these are all things you can do from ANYWHERE, so whether you are home for the break, in Nashville, or traveling the world, you can be making progress on your business without being at school.
A trusted mentor can share valuable information without any expectations or ulterior motives. Finding a mentor can help your development as an entrepreneur and within your business. Not only can a mentor help guide you and give you advice along the way, they can be someone you brainstorm with, someone you go to when you have a hard and important decision to make, or even someone you just want to complain to and get encouragement from. Being an entrepreneur is not always easy but having someone in your corner can make the journey smoother.
Finding the perfect mentor starts with you. To figure out what you need in a mentor ask questions like: What are my weaknesses? Where do I need advice? Do I just have an idea I want to get off the ground or am I looking to expand my business further? These are all factors that could go into finding someone who can be a good mentor for you.
Things to look for in a mentor after considering the above questions:
Experience - If not older than you at least find someone who has more experience than you. You want the advice they give you to come from a place of experience. Even if they wish they had made a different choice, their experience will be helpful to you.
Not Family (Usually) - A family member is great to look up to but you really need someone who can give you honest feedback and not make your family holiday awkward because they told you they didn’t like the color on your logo.
Background - Finding someone who works in the same field or industry as you can provide insights you will not be able to find anywhere else. Note that a mentor does not need to be in your same industry to help you navigate the ins and outs of starting a business.
Honesty - You want a mentor who will be honest to the fullest extent. Having a mentor who will not be honest with you about things you should improve is not going to help you further your business or idea.
Trust - This is key because you want to know that they are in it for the right reasons and leading you down a good path and not just one that benefits them in the end.
Guides, Not Controls - someone who can ask thought-provoking questions and guide you in the right direction. Avoid someone who tells you your next step.
Accountable - They can help keep you accountable and push you to go beyond your comfort zone. If you have goals and a timeline share it with your mentor, they can help make sure you stay on track.
Connections - Someone who can also help share connections with people and help you get other resources you might need along the way. A good mentor is not always going to be able to help you with every problem that arises but they may be able to help you find someone that can.
Take what your mentor says into consideration because they do (ideally) know more than you, but remember at the end of the day you should still make your own decision. Some mentors may come and go in your life (or the life of your business) and that is okay. Show gratitude to your mentors for their time and advice, and pay it forward by mentoring someone else!