Great businesses have always been successfully catapulted to the top of the chain by having credible business mentors, ask business magnate Richard Branson. He has always been a huge believer in the value of good mentoring and what it can do to a business. The same goes to Mark Zuckerberg – Co-founder and CEO of Facebook, the late Steve Jobs and other business moguls. A business cannot thrive without substantial guidance from mentors.
A mentor is a person who has more experience than you in business, or in the field you’re in or simply in life. They are there to help an entrepreneur take charge of their abilities and advise them on how to navigate new challenges. They also provide pointers on business strategies, help you stay on top of your game and also boost your networks by introducing you to the ‘who is who’ in your area of expertise.
Take the story of Bill Gates for example. He went from being a Harvard drop out to being currently listed as one of the richest people in the world. As much as he can accredit his success to the long days and even longer working nights, he has never failed to mention the wise teachings of his mentor, business man and investor, Warren Buffet. Warren always taught Bill to think long term and how to deal with tough situations.
Picking a mentor is not as simple as it seems. One has to put a lot of trust in someone in order to help them build their company and that is no walk in the park. You need to be able to recognize what makes a great mentor, what makes them stand out and more importantly how to maximize on the relationship that you will have. Having a mentor is not just business, it’s a commitment.
So what are some of the ways that one can use in finding a good mentor?
1. Think career path
When looking for a mentor, it is advisable that you start thinking about your career path or the path you wish to choose in terms of entrepreneurship, for those who are just starting out. Narrow down a few great leaders who have your dream job or are a success in the field you wish to pursue. For those who are already in the field but do not yet have a mentor should do the same. Take the time to observe your current job or career path and where you want to see yourself in a few years’ time. If you find someone that emulates the qualities you look for in the future version of you then it’s best to start from there.
2. Start close home
It’s easier to reach out to someone who you are comfortable with. He or she needs to be a neutral field where they can both advise and correct you where possible and also someone you can trust.
Remember that this, good mentoring relationships happen when the right mentor and mentee match. Find that good fit.
3. If not, then try your extended network
Reach out to a few of your contacts. You can ask someone who has been in the game slightly longer than you to give you advice on who to choose as a mentor. A positive word from one of your colleagues and friends can go a long way into helping you choose the right mentor.
You can also try complete strangers. All you need is extensive research and of course precaution. One thing that you want to avoid is coming off way too strong too soon. You can plan to meet for a sit down and pick their brain about some specific questions you may have and over time; if they do fit the bill, you can bring up the idea of a more formal mentoring relationship.
4. Take charge
As much as sometimes fate may intervene in your situation and send you the right mentor for you, you need to be proactive in the search for a good mentor. It won’t happen overnight; good things do come to pass for those who work for them. You might get as lucky as Branson who found a mentor in David Beeves, an accountant and friend of his parents who took young Richard under his wing and helped him climb the business ladder. Widen your search as well and be very proactive in trying to find as many experienced business professionals as you can.
In as much as looking for the right mentor involves studying their track record of success, there are other qualities you should look for in a mentor as well. Strong character traits and even moral values should be necessary pointers to emulate in a mentor. You need someone who is invested in your growth but is also not afraid of speaking the truth to you. As Richard Branson would say, always pick personality over experience.
You can learn more about finding a mentor here.