• How to find a great mentor for your startup

    There are a number of key benefits to getting a startup mentor for your business. Here's how to find the right one for you.

    Between YouTube, Google, Facebook and all the other substantial online platforms, you might think there is no point in finding a startup mentor. After all, you can get all the information and tips you need for running a business from the internet, right?

    Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

    There are a number of key benefits to getting a sales consultant for your business. Not least of all, because a mentor can help you to raise your bottom line.

    They can also offer their experience, perspective and innovative ways of thinking to spark new ideas and spot where your business model could be improved.

    How do we know this to be true?

    Well, a study from SCORE found that almost one in three (30%) entrepreneurs who had even one interaction with a mentor reported growth in their business. What’s more, almost half (43%) of those who had multiple interactions with a mentor saw this same thing.

    Not only this but starting a business can be tough, especially if you’re doing it alone. Finding a startup mentor gives you someone there to support you on your journey and to offer their advice.

    If you’re considering finding a mentor for your business, we’ve got just what you need. In this guide, we’re going to take a look at:

    • What a startup mentor is

    • The role they play in your business

    • What you need to be looking for in the ideal startup mentor

    • How to find the right mentor for your business

    So let’s first start by getting a better understanding of what a startup mentor is and how they can help your business.

    What is a startup mentor?

    You might be familiar with some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah Winfrey.

    And what do all of these people have in common?

    Apart from being hugely successful, they all relied on the support and guide of their mentors at one point or another in their career.

    So no matter what your career or how big your business, it’s easy to see how important mentors can be. These are trusted figures with an extensive career and loads of industry experience that can help you to realise your potential and turn your ideas and dreams into reality.

    They are there to share their knowledge, skills, advice and years of experience to help new entrepreneurs reach their goals.

    A startup mentor can make a huge difference to your business, especially in the early days. They’ll help you to set goals, understand and capitalise on the market and get your business off the ground.

    The role of a startup mentor

    As we said, the role of a mentor is to share their professional experience and provide advice. But they are also there to do so much more than this. A good startup mentor will take on a number of roles and responsibilities. These might include:

    • Bringing a good reputation with them, adding credibility to the business

    • Sharing advice and information based on their own experiences and knowledge of the industry

    • Advising on strategic planning

    • Offering support and resolutions to problems that might arise

    • Motivating their mentee through difficult times

    • Helping to establish and set goals

    • Identifying good resources, suppliers or third-party providers

    • Offering advice on how to shape management, business culture, recruiting staff, etc.

    • Sharing contacts and helping the mentee to grow their professional network

    What should you look for in a startup mentor?

    In order to help you find the right startup mentor, it’s important that you know what to look for. Below, we’ve put together a list of the key characteristics and attributes you need to look out for in a good mentor. These are:

    • Being well-informed about the industry - you need someone with real-world experience in the industry so they can help you understand the market and give you advice on what does and doesn’t work

    • Having wider connections - you want a startup mentor that can potentially open doors for you. This means you want someone with lots of connections in your industry, whether that be potential investors, employees, strategic partnerships, etc.

    • Being a creative problem-solver - you need someone that is able to find creative and efficient solutions to any problems you may come up against. But more than this, you want a mentor that can see things from different angles and advise you on the best way to tackle issues to make the most profit

    • Honesty - while it’s always nice to hear how well you’re doing, it also pays to have someone that is open and honest with you about the areas you’re not doing so well in. Look for a mentor that can give constructive criticism and honest feedback to help you really drive your business forward

    • Being proactive - sometimes you can have lots of great ideas, but you don’t get around to transforming these into actions. A good mentor will be able to inspire and support you, so you’re able to turn your ideas into a reality

    By keeping these in mind and looking for the right characteristics and experience, you’ll be able to find a great startup mentor to support your business.

    4 ways to find the right mentor for your startup

    The good news is, when it comes to finding yourself a startup mentor, there are several things you can do. Below, we’ve pulled together a list of ways and places you can look to find the right mentor for your business.

    1. Join a startup incubator or accelerator program

    Startup incubator and accelerator programs can offer opportunities for funding, networking and management. They also provide education and monitorship programs to businesses in their early stages.

    By joining an incubator or accelerator program, you’ll have access to a wide range of professional advice. You’ll also work with several different mentors, all with different expertise.

    So look online or in your local area to find a program that is a good fit for your business and industry. This way, you can meet and work with mentors that can really help you to grow your business.

    2. Look for upcoming events in your area

    As well as incubator and accelerator programs, there are lots of other events that can benefit your business. For example:

    • Startup conferences

    • Seminars and talks from industry experts

    • Video or virtual startup events

    • Startup shows

    • Startup pitch competitions

    • Web summits

    These events offer a great opportunity to network with like-minded professionals and entrepreneurs. There will also be a lot of industry experts attending, increasing the chances of meeting your mentor.

    When attending these events, just be sure to engage with other attendees and talk to people. Ask for their business cards or contact details and give yours out too. You might introduce yourself to a future mentor without even realising it.

    3. Join a professional organisation

    Another great place to find a mentor is to join a professional organisation. These are usually non-profit organisations that want to support a particular professional, field or type of entrepreneur. As such, this is a good place to start to engage with like-minded professionals and business owners.

    And who knows which one could be your next mentor?

    You should look for someone who is already at the level of success you want to reach. You can also speak to others who are just starting out in their business.

    But don’t just take our word for it; join a professional organisation in your industry and see the results for yourself!

    4. Use online resources

    Finally, the internet has opened us up to so many opportunities and a whole host of information. There are also lots of resources you can use to meet potential startup mentors. Signing up to these sites can help you to network and meet professionals in your industry.

    Some examples of great online resources include:

    • LinkedIn - this is a hybrid between a professional platform and social media. It is geared towards connecting professionals online and allowing them to join groups, start relevant conversations and meet others in their industry. This can be the ideal place to find a mentor

    • Meetup.com - Meetup is an online site to connect businesses and entrepreneurs in your local area. You can also start your own group and join existing groups to have meaningful conversations with like-minded people

    These are not the only online resources you can use, but these are definitely some of the best places to get started with networking and meeting others in your industry.

    Are you ready to find your startup mentor?

    In summary, there are lots of key benefits to getting yourself a strong startup mentor.

    They are able to offer their professional advice, help you set goals, motivate you through the tough times and boost your network.

    If you’re just starting out on your business journey and you’ve decided the time has come to get yourself a mentor, there are several ways you can find yourself the right one. These include:

    • Joining a startup incubator or accelerator program

    • Looking for upcoming events in your area

    • Joining a professional organisation

    • Using online resources such as LinkedIn and Meetup

    So what are you waiting for? Get online and start looking for events and programs in your area. And you’ll find yourself a helpful startup mentor in no time.

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