You shouldn’t take financial advice from people who are broke. That is so aptly stated by Dave Ramsey. The Internet is full of advice but there’s more fluff than substance. The guide on “how to earn $100,000 from your blog” can be coming from someone who hasn’t earned $100 from his blog and you’d never know. This is why it’s important to learn from people who actually made it to the top and find yourself a mentor. Mentors can help you with everything, from idea validation to action plan, and increasing your profits to work life balance.
John Lee Dumas, who runs a very successful podcasting business (Entrepreneur on Fire) has benefited greatly from mentors like Lewis Howes or Jaime Tardy. We recently had the chance to sit down with John for an interview.
Go ahead and check it out.
John has himself mentored a number of entrepreneurs and he has some wonderful advice on how to find the right mentor and make the most this relationship. He paid for the mentorship and he is happy with the investment because he got to utilize the practical knowledge, experience, and education of his mentors.
Mentors can save you from costly mistakes:
Poor pricing strategy, choosing the wrong team, launching too early or too late are just some of the most common mistakes startups make. A mentor cannot guarantee success but he will save you from rookie mistakes.
Improve your self-confidence:
How many times you’ve questioned and discarded your own decisions because you were not confident? Once you discuss your ideas and get the nod from a successful entrepreneur, you will be a lot more confident in your decisions and actions.
The Power of Right Habits:
You will learn a lot by looking at their habits and thought patterns in different situations. For example, how to cope with a setback, how to manage change, how to communicate, etc? A mentor can instill the right habits that will be of great help in future endeavors.
Mentors are often quite well connected. They will introduce you to other successful people in the industry. Even if the mentorship lasts for a short period of time, they will open up a world of opportunities through their network and references.
What makes a Good Mentor?
Having some degree of success in business is not the only criteria. Identifying the right person is very important because not everybody can be a good mentor. A mentor is willing to share his knowledge but he will not spoon feed his mentee. He will show you the path but will not try to get in the driving seat. He will nurture and help you grow to your best self instead of encouraging you to imitate his style or behavior.
How to Find a Business Mentor:
Start from making your mind on the role of your mentor. Ideally, you should be looking for someone who can teach you the tricks of the trade. He must be willing to share his knowledge.
Here’s where you can find a business mentor.
1) Your Social Circle
The first place to look at is your existing network. Is there someone in your friends, family, or professional network with relevant experience? They will be a great choice because you will be comfortable approaching and interacting with them.
2) Local Mentorship or Business Development Programs
Search for a local mentorship, startup incubator, or business development programs. These programs have seasoned entrepreneurs and business experts in their panels that you can use as mentors.
Score is a great resource to search for business mentors in your area. You can also participate in their workshops and local events to network with successful entrepreneurs.
You can search on platforms like HorseMouth, which is a social network for informal mentoring.
3) Search Online
If you can’t find a mentor in your city, you need to find someone online. LinkedIn is a great place to find and connect with such people. You can filter results by industry, locations, years of experience, or seniority level (some of these filters will need a premium account).
Remember you want to benefit from their network and experience so try to find someone in the same business. If they are coming from a different industry, you will end up with irrelevant advice and unusable connections. Choose a mentor who’’ll have time on his hands. If they are fully occupied in their own projects, you will not be able to progress at your desired speed.
How to Approach a Potential Mentor:
Don’t start from sending a mentorship request or asking them to meet over coffee. It’ll sound a little creepy and you’re more likely to get a negative response (or no response at all).
Build a relationship. Engage with them through social media or email and keep the initial messages short and right to the point. Share your plans and explain that you are looking for some guidance. Let them know how much you value their time and opinion. Mentors will be interested in working with entrepreneurs who have done their homework. If you are getting in touch with half-baked ideas, they will discard you as just another daydreamer.
Once they show some interest and get back to you with feedback, you can make a formal request for meeting or mentorship.
Making the Most of the Mentorship:
John has shared a wonderful model of engagement in the above mentioned interview.
Here’s what he suggests:
Opt for a short weekly session with email access in between. It’s better than a lengthy session after long intervals. Weekly sessions ensure that you are getting their input on your progress, plans, and problems on a regular basis.
Prepare for your mentoring session in advance. Make notes on what you want to discuss.
In case you aren’t paying but you are taking a lot of time, consider offering them an equity stake once things start working well.
Lastly, be thankful and keep them posted on your progress even after the mentorship has run its course.