You’re launching a startup. You have a great idea and you’re ready to get it up and running, so what’s next aside from the obvious elements of creating a business?
What about finding a mentor?
You may not have thought about needing a mentor when building a startup, but these relationships can be one of the most valuable things you do for yourself and your business. An entrepreneurial mentor is someone who offers top-level wisdom and experience and someone who’s created their own success. There are so many things that go into building a startup that really have nothing to do with the idea itself, and these are the areas a mentorship can offer guidance in.
Think about this; even Mark Zuckerberg had a mentor. It just so happened to be Steve Jobs, but the principle remains the same, even if you’re not launching the next Facebook.
So how do you find the right startup mentor?
Look to Your Personal Network
The first place to start your search for a start-up mentor should be your personal and professional networks. Look through your LinkedIn connections, ask people you personally know or even look to groups you may be a member of. All of these can be strong sources for connecting with a mentor.
Attend a Conference or Industry Event
One of the best places to find a mentor is at industry events or conferences. The reasons these can be a goldmine is because not only are there people there exclusively in your industry but if they’re attending a conference, it likely means they’re enthusiastic and engaged, which can be good indicators of a positive and impactful mentor possibility.
Consider the Competition
An interesting place to look for a mentor can be your competition. The person obviously can’t be your direct competition, but if you look for someone who does something similar to what you do it can actually be a very intelligent strategy. This person can give you interesting insights that you might not otherwise have access to, and since they are related to your industry in some way, it’s just a excellent way to get tailored advice and guidance from a unique perspective.
Be Prepared to Woo
If you want a qualified startup mentor, this is probably going to be a successful person, who’s also busy and has all kinds of offers coming his or her way. With that in mind, you might have to do a little wooing to get them to agree to mentor you. Be prepared to set yourself apart from everyone else your would-be mentor interacts with on a daily basis. You’re going to have to be personal, persistent and act as if you’re looking for a job from that person, even though you actually just want the value of their wisdom and experience.
Be Prepared to Listen
As we conclude our tips for finding a mentor, remember that for a mentorship to be valuable, you have to be willing to take value from the relationship. Be prepared to listen. This can be a challenge for entrepreneurs launching a startup because they want to have all the answers, but rather than taking that approach, truly sit back and be a student. You’ll likely be amazed at how it shortens the learning curve and helps you build a much stronger foundation for business success.