Entrepreneurship is an incredible journey, but it’s not for everyone. While you might be an expert in your field (and that could be sales, medicine, finance, whatever) running a business requires an entirely new set of skills which most business owners only acquire on the job. Unless you’ve been to business school or were raised by an astute businessperson, you’re mostly flying blind.
Sure, you can go it alone, but do you really want to?
I spent 10 long years trying to figure out how to scale my business rapidly, and I recognise that a mentor would have saved me time and thousands of dollars. Through their mentorship, I would have reached my goals quicker without the sleepless nights and frustrating days.
Mentors are instrumental in shaping our thinking and actions. Most notably, mentors provide clarity, hold you accountable and help you make invaluable mindset shifts that are guaranteed to change the course of your life forever. Here’s what you need to know to find the right mentor for you.
Don’t be too ambitious
Many entrepreneurs want to work with the top dog in their industry. They look at a Warren Buffet or Richard Branson and think: ‘Yeah, that’s where I need to be, they’re the route to my success.’ Wrong!
If you’re starting out, you want to focus on a mentor who is two or three steps ahead of you in the game, not a mentor at the top of their field. There is so much you still need to learn, and trust me when I say, the billionaire entrepreneur who you idolise is not going to bring you up to speed.
I liken it to taking up golf. As a beginner, you wouldn’t hire Tiger Woods to teach you the ABCs of golfing. He’s there to mentor a semi-pro and make subtle tweaks to their swing or stance which will massively impact their game. You’re better off finding someone who’s been coaching for a good few years. They play a decent game, and they’re going to teach you the basics. Once you’ve reached a point where they can’t show you anything more, then you move onto a more experienced or technical coach.
Small logical steps, not giant leaps.
Choose a mentor that’s invested in your success
Personal investment is significant when choosing a mentor. You want a mentor that’s going to celebrate your wins, someone who’s as committed to the success of your business as you are. They’ll listen to your ideas, ask relevant questions, and suggest implementable solutions. Think of them like your very own personal cheerleader. While they get a kick out of turning your business from barely surviving to thriving, you can look forward to actionable tactics and greater financial freedom.
You need to get along. Mentors should be easy to talk to and good listeners, someone you respect and look forward to working with. If you’re uncomfortable relating your experiences and receiving feedback, then they’re not the right fit for you.
It is also important to remember it can take up to a year to see great results. It’s a process, so establish long-term expectations and goals.
Look outside the box
Don’t be afraid to work with someone who’s in an entirely different field. Unless you are specifically looking for insights into your industry, it can be beneficial to work with a mentor whose background is different from yours. It will mean they’re not jaded by some of the realities of your field and may have an unusual perspective that works. They will also move in different circles, so there’s no conflict of interest. It’s highly unlikely that they could be mentoring a competitor and you may even find it easier to be open and honest with them.
Stick to one mentor at a time
You really shouldn’t have more than one mentor at a time. In my opinion, it’s best to concentrate on one thing. Otherwise, you’ll get too distracted. It’s also important to note that different mentors have differing opinions which can confuse. Focus on what you’re doing, and once you’ve mastered that part of your business, then move on.
Be prepared to pay
While we all want free advice, if you want a good mentor, then you need to pay them. Your focus goes where your money goes, and you’re far more likely to value a paid-for mentor than a freebie. In my experience, if you don’t pay, you won’t pay attention. The shortest path to getting the results you want is to invest time and money into a great mentor.
Remember, until they can teach you no more, a good mentor will be there to support and guide you every step of your entrepreneurial journey. Your success is a reflection of their mentorship, and that’s hugely important.