Our step-by-step guide to finding a mentor
Finding a business mentor should be on every aspiring entrepreneur’s to-do list. Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor was Steve Jobs. Bill Gates’ mentor is Warren Buffett. Even Luke Skywalker had Obi-Wan.
So why are so many business leaders and professionals hesitant to have a mentor?
Richard Branson attributes much of his success with Virgin Airlines to his mentor, as he wrote in the British newspaper, “I wouldn’t have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker.” One of the main reasons entrepreneurs don’t have a mentor is that they think it’s a sign of weakness, but that’s a huge mistake. Finding a mentor is also one of the five steps we take to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, which is crucial to succeeding as an entrepreneur.
Why we all need mentors
Owning a company is hard enough as it is. If it were easy, everyone would be successful, right? But what is so hard about running a business that the failure rate is so high?
If you take a look around the web, you’ll find many articles about various reasons: poor product-market fit, insufficient business model, weak single point of sale, etc.
A new reason why most businesses fail
Despite all these factors, I’d like to introduce you to a new reason why most businesses fail: they give up too soon.
I see it all the time when people start an e-commerce business. The main reason they fail is that they give up after two months.
If you’re not surrounded by smart, supportive people, you’re likely to throw in the towel when things get tough.
But imagine what you could accomplish if none of the people around you let you fail. What if your friends and family held you accountable for every goal you set? Your chances of failure would plummet. Having a mentor or business coach can have the same effect.
Finding a business mentor is crucial to your success.
Here are a few reasons to understand this:
Having a coach keeps you on track and track with your word. When you set goals, your business coach will make sure you achieve them. Have you ever made a list of things you plan to do during the year only to forget about it a few months later? A coach is the best accountability partner you can find.
Sure, you have to be smart to run a business, but no matter how many ideas you can come up with in a brainstorming session, you’ll always benefit from having another brain in the room. Having a different professional perspective will help you develop your ideas and spot any holes that are blinding you.
Having a coach helps you move forward faster and more efficiently. When you work with someone who has more experience than you do, you’ll save yourself a ton of time, money, and trouble than if you tried to do it yourself. Whatever obstacle you’re facing at any given time, chances are someone else has been through it too.
There’s also a no better way for you to cultivate your competitive spirit than to work with someone who has one.
Most entrepreneurs will read this and agree, but they still don’t have business coaches.
They think they don’t need one or that it’s a waste of time and money. Just because you don’t need a coach doesn’t mean you won’t benefit.
“Professional athletes rely on coaches, how are business owners different? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to find a professional coach that’s right for you. I sincerely hope it helps you find the mentor that will help you take your business to the next level.
Finding a Business Mentor – Step by Step
Step 1: Define your goals
To find a business coach to help you, you first need to know what you want. Are you looking for rapid growth? More free time? Do you want to learn a specific skill? If you don’t know what you want in business and life, it will be difficult to find a coach who can help you.
Before you start looking for a coach, answer the following questions:
What is your long-term vision? What does your idea of success look like? What is your main goal? Do you want to be financially independent? Do you want to do something meaningful? Have free time for your family? Am I willing to pay for a coach to help me get results faster?
Answering these types of questions is just the beginning.
You may need to take some time to think about what you want, but the more you know, the easier it will be to find a coach who can help you.
Step 2: Ask yourself, “What am I looking for?
Next, start thinking about what exactly you want in a mentor. Do you want someone who is a good listener? Do you want someone with specific skills or experience?
Think about your weaknesses and how a coach could help you.
Make a list of the qualities you want your coach to have. Then break that list down into needs. While it would be great to find a coach with all the qualities you noted, you will have to compromise because no one is perfect.
Step 3: Actually find a business mentor (or a few)
Now that you’ve identified what you need, it’s time to go looking. Here’s how I recommend you proceed.
Write a list of people you admire and already know personally. These can be your friends, family members, business associates, colleagues, co-workers, or anyone else you’ve ever interacted with. If you have a large network, I recommend finding someone you already know. It will be faster. But I understand that not everyone has a big network, to begin with, so if that doesn’t bring you luck, move on to phase 2….
Write a list of people you admire who you don’t know personally yet. These are your heroes and role models, people you admire in your industry or city, people you follow on social media, or anyone else you’d like to get a feel for.
These could be bloggers, business owners, or members of your community.
Think about your competitors and others in your industry. If you’ve gone through phases 1 and 2 and still don’t have good prospects, you’ll probably have to pay.
Start by searching your network for someone who does this for a living and goes from there.
Write down your goals, expectations, and what you can offer in return. You must do this after you have already gone through steps one and two so that you know what you want, what you need help with, and what you hope to get from your mentor at this time.
It is also important to know what you can offer in return:
Money, connections, time, free services, etc. (free coffee does not count). Think about how you can help your mentor and be willing to be upfront about it. Mentors learn a lot from having mentors as well.
They can learn leadership and coaching skills
They can leave a legacy by passing on their business advice. And believe it or not, many people are proud to help and play a role in their success.
Begin contacting the people on both lists. For the #1 list of people you know, send a friendly email/message telling them you admire them and would like to learn from them. Ideally, start with a brief email and ask to make a phone call.
Then, once you’re on the phone, you can discuss the details.
If you are in the same area, try to meet in person. Emailing is a common way to find a business mentor. Keep your emails short and to the point. Also, try to add value.
For list #2, you’ll need to make a little extra effort.
Since these people don’t know you, you’ll need to put yourself out there a little more. You don’t need to brag, but make it clear to this person why it’s worth their while to help you.
You may not think you have much to offer, but that’s okay.
Just being extremely motivated can be enough to make people want to help you. “If someone gets the sense that you are a passionate business leader with a great vision, they will want to help you.
But if you come across as lazy and scared, I wouldn’t count on it.
Start with an email to introduce yourself and explain your situation. As you are addressing someone who doesn’t know you. This last step may seem a little intimidating, but don’t let it get to you. If they all say no, you will be in the same situation you are in now, so you have nothing to lose!
Also, remember that most people like to help others and share their ideas and experiences.
Think of it this way, you are doing them a favor by asking for help!
Step 4: Plan your first meeting
Once you’ve found a few possible mentors, it’s time to meet with them and discuss the details. It’s important to make your first conversation as honest, genuine, and comfortable as possible. Meet at a coffee shop or restaurant, as long as it’s a place where you feel comfortable. If you don’t live in the same city, schedule a phone date.
Depending on their schedule and availability
you may have to pay for the first meeting, but it should give you a great idea of what it would be like to work with this person, so it’s worth it. Again, try to schedule a face-to-face meeting if you can, but if you want to work with someone far away, a video call may suffice.
If you are meeting with someone you already know,
you don’t necessarily need to mention upfront that you want them to be your mentor or coach. Assuming you have already met her, you can have a coffee and see how it goes. Then, at the end of your first meeting (interview), if everything seems to have gone well, you can bring up the idea of talking again sometime.
Receptive and willing to help
Over time, if they continue to seem receptive and willing to help you, you can bring up the idea of a more formal mentoring relationship with more specific parameters and goals. Be careful not to rush things, as this can take time.
if their time is too valuable, it won’t work. You want to find someone who is relatively easy to reach and who can spend fifteen minutes with you now and then.
Step 5: Get to know each other
When you meet your future mentors, you will have a good idea of what it would be like to work together. Remember, this is a two-way street, so have an honest discussion about your goals, expectations, needs, etc. to see if this is a good fit. If this is someone you already know and have met before, don’t treat this meeting any differently.
Catch up, ask questions about his or her business and engage in a typical conversation
If this coach is charging you for the first meeting, you definitely want to make sure you get your money’s worth, so don’t be shy! Ask questions, voice your concerns and open your eyes. If things go well, be honest and say that you enjoyed the meeting and look forward to discussing your business together on a regular schedule.
Step 6: Nurture the relationship
Once you’ve found the mentor you want to work with, it’s time to establish a consistent meeting schedule. If you’ve met dozens of people along the way, you may have several options to choose from. This is a good thing.
Keep in mind that it can be beneficial to have more than one mentor.
If you are concerned about taking up too much of your mentor’s time, multiple mentors can be a good solution. Also, the advantage of having multiple mentors is that you can get a lot of different perspectives.
If you’ve found a paid coach, it’s probably best to stay with them.
But it’s okay to have multiple coaches for different needs. At this point, you’ll know what works for you and who helps you the most. A good coach leaves you feeling confident and motivated after each meeting.
Step 7: Act and grow together
Once you’ve found your mentor, it’s time to implement their advice and watch your business grow. If you pay someone to help you and don’t follow through, it’s a waste of time and money, so make sure you take action. It’s not enough to just show up.
If you work with a coach or mentor for a while and find that you are not making progress,
you need to step back and decide why it’s not working. Is it you or your mentor? Also, be honest, if something is not going well, make sure you let him/her know.
Having someone to hold you accountable is magical.
It can make the difference between success and failure. That’s why we have our own coaching program within the community. Members who are looking for extra help can choose success.
At the end of the day, there’s really no downside to having a mentor or coach.
Of course, it can cost money. Now, I want to know what you think about it. Do you have a business coach or mentor? Why or why not?
Recap on finding a mentor:
- Define the goals
- Ask yourself, “What are you looking for?
- Find a business mentor
- Plan your first meeting
- Get to know each other
- Nurture the relationship
- Act and grow together
- Follow these steps to find a mentor and you’ll soon be closer to entrepreneurial success.