When I started out in business I had bravado. A prestige of courage and swagger…..like I knew what I was doing.
I soon found out that I had virtually no idea what I was actually doing and that I was either going to stick with the ‘fake it till you make it’ mentality or I was going to ‘know it to grow it’.
I went with the second option and I am thankful every day for having had the courage to check my ego at the door and ask for some help, insight, guidance and sometimes for someone just to simply vent to.
On a whole other level of openness, I also needed a mentor who would be a cheerleader because although I have always prided myself on not needing external encouragement, somewhere in the deep dark places hidden by my uncanny ability to toughen up, is a part of me that likes to be told that I am doing something well and that it is worth doing….and that someone else believes I can do it.
I never knew we called these people mentors. I in my case they were just people around me who helped me out. Of course 10 years ago when I started out, there was not any formal mentorship networking places like there are today. The word ‘mentor’ barely made it into conversations really. No one talked about seeking out someone else because then, a true entrepreneur did it all alone.
Thank heavens this has changed and people have gone from working alone to seeing the value in working together. I will be doing a piece about collaboration next – so stay tuned because it is an iron clad way to build a business at any stage. Before you collaborate however, you will likely need a mentor.
In answering hundreds of questions from entrepreneurs over the past month, I have heard the number one call for help to be “I need a mentor”.
My team and I took a deep dive into developing a great framework to serve our students come September in nailing down the perfect mentor for each individual, but for now…..a great place to start is in helping you with what I can share outside of my upcoming course.
So, seeing as I am here to help……
Here are the top 5 things you need to ask yourself before you go looking for a mentor:
- Specifically, what skill/knowledge shortcomings do I have which could be supplemented by a mentor’s view of my business?
- In fine detail, what are the top 3 skills I want the mentor to have from a professional perspective.
- Generally, what are the top 3 ‘rules of engagement’ I want to see adhered to when it comes to developing a mentor/mentee relationship (ex. access to his/her time weekly by email, we do or do not speak of things outside of work directly….)
- What can I identify about myself that could hinder my ability to get full benefit from an open, honest, skilled mentor?
- What do I stand to gain from having a mentor?
The next steps in general are looking at that list and working through who you may know, have access to or develop relationships with who can serve your mentorship wants. You may find that you will need three very different people to satisfy all of the things you are looking for. You may find you need these people spanning over different lengths of time – some for 2 months, some for 2 years. You may find that a parent or friend may satisfy one of the roles and you had previously never considered them in your mentor matrix, you may never have fought to formalize a bit of that relationship to support you professionally in your want for a mentor as an entrepreneur.
Finding the right person or people will take time and the quality of the relationship you develop with your mentor will be defined by the quality of the work you put into getting clear on what you need to move yourself and your business to the next level, or through this level.
I would not feel right if I did not give a shout out to my very first mentors – my Mom and Dad, my third mentor – my amazing Brother and my dear mentor who stood by me through the darkest times when business was tough – this guy even gave me a hug when I broke down and sobbed in his big corner office – Grant, to you I owe my depth of confidence and the beginning of my acceptance of vulnerability in achieving big time success.
If you have a mentor- take this opportunity to send them a note – thank them – let them know the difference their investment in you is making to you, your business, your family….whatever is being supported and improved by your mentor.
If you do not have a mentor or you don’t have the right mentor, start now. Answer these 5 questions and start the process of finding the right match. Get some entrepreneurial super powers under your belt.
Looking for a Mentor? We can help! We are having mentor match-ups at our October 20th Conference on October 20th.