Entrepreneurship is thrilling because there’s no instruction manual. You’re backing yourself to overcome whatever challenges lie in wait, and the rewards for success are almost limitless. This mindset is usually an entrepreneur’s best friend. It fuels them and pushes them through periods of doubt. However, it can also raise problems for those new to the craft.
Who do you turn to when a problem seems insurmountable? How do you handle aspects of the business that are outside your previous career experience? In these instances, a mentor will prove the difference between the success and failure of a fledgling business. These experienced individuals can offer real-world experience that it’s impossible to find on a search engine. They’ve been there, done that, and their advice will shine a spotlight on business impacts you likely hadn’t even considered.
How to Find a Mentor to Help Grow Your Business
So, how does one locate a mentor that’s aligned with their business outlook, industry and goals? Finding the right mentor is like dating. There has to be chemistry between the mentor and mentee; they need to share similar interests, feel passionately about the potential of the relationship and be prepared to commit for the long term.
Beginning this search may feel daunting. After all, approaching someone you admire professionally to ask for their time can be intimidating. Acting as a mentor is something most business leaders are happy to do. Many of them benefitted from mentorship early on, and it’s their opportunity to give back to the next generation. It can also help refine their leadership skills, recognize strengths and weaknesses, and how to look within in order to make necessary changes.
If you’re considering working with a mentor in entrepreneurship, here’s how to find a mentor to grow your business.
Practice Your Elevator Pitch
No matter what stage of business you’re at, you’ll want to provide a compelling reason why an experienced entrepreneur should invest their time in mentoring you. We’re not talking Dragon’s Den here, but you should be able to flawlessly deliver an elevator pitch for your business that demonstrates your vision, your goals, and how you plan to get there. Enlist the help of friends or family to act as the audience for practicing your pitch.
Check out Mentorship Websites
Depending on the industry you’re in, there are websites who list successful entrepreneurs who are available to mentor you on an ad hoc/one-time basis. An advantage of these services is they are helpful for those seeking advice on a specific topic that don’t want to have a formal, long-term mentorship relationship.
An example of this kind of approach can be found in the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of BC and Yukon, and the Association of Corporate Growth (ACGBC), who both offer limited term access to mentorship style services.
Find a Mentor from Professional Organizations
There are also plenty of non-profit organizations that offer mentorship connection programs as part of their mission to help entrepreneurs succeed. These organizations will often do the legwork to vet mentees and mentors, creating pairings based off of exhaustive research. Futurpreneur Canada offer one of Canada’s largest programs of this type, connecting young entrepreneurs with a host of potential mentorship options in their industry. Elsewhere, women entrepreneurs can tap into a similar service offered by the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs.
Find a Mentor in Your Own Network
Many entrepreneurs find mentors within their own networks. Whether you know this person in real life, from LinkedIn, or they’re someone you admire from afar, the approach should be the same. The key to finding a natural relationship with someone in your network is finding a person who indicates they want to help you. You can then ask them a few questions, and if they show a willingness to help on a more regular basis, that’s a sign they may want to be your mentor. It’s all about sensing what the other person wants to give you and whether you’re a good fit as their mentee.