Nowadays I hear the word startup almost every day. Whether it’s a tech company, an eshop or your favorite ice cream shop around the corner. It seems these days everything is a startup. They are popping up like mushrooms after rain. Of course, every good startup can use a good mentor. I mean, why would you learn from your own mistakes if you can have somebody who is holding your hand and babysitting you through the hurdles of business?
With the explosion of startups came a high demand for mentors. But how do you know which one is the real deal and which one is just full of sh*t?
There are a couple of things that you should consider when looking for the right mentor.
You have to ask yourself what you want to achieve. Do you want to know how to do presentations, sales, make money, raise money, hire the right people? Unfortunately the first thing you will realize is that there is no ultimate mentor for this. Each mentor is different and brings a unique approach and skillset with him. Ideally it’s good to have a good mix of 2-3 mentors who can advise you with their expertise in a particular field.
- Expertise and track record
There are a lot of events and seminars organized by mentors these days. Some are free but most of them charge money for it. Going to all of these might cause you some serious cash flow issues. Trust me, been there done that. Before going to a seminar or event do your research up front. You can achieve a lot by using google, linked in, xing and financial company reports. Ask yourself, would you rather get sales advice from somebody who’s company revenue was 10K last year, or 5mil?
The most successful person who you know might not be necessarily the right mentor for you. While striving for success is definitely a good way to go, I found out that it’s also a lot about personality and friendship between a mentor and mentee. If you are very energetic, sarcastic and outgoing you probably won’t get along with a mentor who is analytical, calm and an introvert. While I’m not saying you cannot learn a lot from somebody like this, the relationship won’t probably be as smooth as it could be. When I was younger, somebody wise told me time is expensive. While I didn’t get it back then, it makes more and more sense with time passing by. For me personally, I’m not looking to do business with people with whom I don’t get along well because simply time is just too expensive.
Even though I’m putting it last, it’s the most important trade when looking for a mentor. Especially because this is a lesson you are going to learn the hard way, especially in business. There are a lot of people who will tell you they have a large network, worldwide connections and can get you a lot of introductions. But then again, I also have a ton of friends on Facebook and connections on linked in. Trust is good, but proof is better. If you have a good network you can always ask feedback about mentors from your peers before engaging them. Also when being offered a good network and introduction ask for specifics, which company or person you want to introduce me to exactly, how do you know each other, etc.? If the answers add up, you probable chose wisely.
[easy-tweet tweet=”#Startup #Mentors, A Love Story Or A Nightmare?” user=”150sec” hashtags=”CEEmakers” url=”http://wp.me/p6MtIQ-15j”]
The best advice I got from a mentor when starting my business was, “There is not shitty idea, there is just shitty execution”, and the best advice I can give you when looking for a good mentor is, go with your gut feeling no matter what all the fancy articles say, or else you might end up in a marriage from which there is no escape.