Oprah is one, so is Bill Gates. Now it’s your turn. You’ve made the first step for small business success by wanting to become a mentee. All you need to do now is find the right mentor for you. Visit Mentorship BC and find an inspiring mentor who can lead you through the challenges of starting a small business.
It can take time and research to find your ideal mentor, but once you find the perfect match, follow these eight tips to be a great mentee and to keep your mentor happy:
- Be open-minded. You may have a vision of how you want to run your small business, but a mentor can help you see perspectives you may not have considered. If you are open-minded, you are open to learn and adapt to take advantage of new opportunities.
- Respect boundaries. A mentor is there to help you during your allocated meetings and will let you know whether he or she can be contacted outside of these hours. Follow your mentor’s requests to encourage a positive relationship. It is also good practice show respect by arriving early and ensuring your sessions finish on time.
- Be prepared. Focus on what outcomes you want from each business mentorship session. Write a brief agenda with questions, recent progress, and developments that you would like to cover. If you think your mentor would appreciate it, send a copy of the agenda before the session.
- Follow through. Part of a mentor’s role is to hold you accountable; that might be why you chose to work with a mentor in the first place. So, it’s important to follow through on any work or tasks that you agreed to complete. And if you can’t, manage your mentor’s expectations and let him or her know why and when you do expect to complete the task. It is helpful if you send a brief thank you note after a meeting with an outline of all the tasks you will complete. This way you’ll both be on the same page and you’ll be accountable to fulfill what is expected of you.
- Show gratitude. Many mentors volunteer their time from their busy schedules to help you. Show you appreciate your mentor’s help by thanking him or her for aspects of the meeting that really helped you. This way your mentor receives feedback and feels like his or her work is making a difference in your life.
- Build rapport. One of the most enjoyable aspects about business mentorship relationships is building rapport. Ask your mentor questions such as: Why did you want to be an entrepreneur or why do you enjoy owning a small business? It is likely that your mentor was once in your position, and you will feel more connected to each other by sharing your experiences.
- Take notes. During a session or meeting with your mentor take notes to help you remember key points from your discussion and to stay organized. Also track next steps you need to complete before your following session.
- Have realistic expectations. A mentor’s role is to share his or her experiences and to give you guidance. However, it is not to do tasks for you or introduce you to business connections. Focus on the relationship you will gain with your mentor instead of what he or she can do for you.