Women In Business

How to find the best mentor: infographic

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Why would someone want to be an entrepreneur? It could be for any number of reasons. Many just want to be the CEO and/or founder of a successful business. Being your own boss means you get to call the shots, and you’re not working for someone else. Some aspiring entrepreneurs are inspired by humanitarian causes or a particular need they see in society, and they want to be a part of the change they wish to see in the world. For some, it’s simply the fact that they want to make lots of money in their lifetime.

All three of these are valid reasons to pursue a career as an entrepreneur. However, the trouble is often not finding the motivation to get started, but finding the determination and perseverance necessary to see these goals through to the end. The road to entrepreneurial success is fraught with obstacles and difficulties that will test any business owner. While some of the major obstructions face you in the very beginning, such as securing funding for your small business, other issues down the road often come unforeseen, like creating a sleek, functioning website that properly represents your brand, or even developing a company culture that attracts new talent.

Another factor to consider is all the work involved for you. It’s personally taxing to start a business. Many business owners work around the clock with no compensation for their time. But that’s the kind of work ethic you need to get your business off the ground. These kids of conditions at the beginning of your journey will truly test your passion and resolve. While this is pretty typical for anyone going into business, the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business owners have a mentor at some point.

The Benefits of a mentorship

Mentorships benefit both parties involved. A recent study showed that companies helmed by an owner with a mentor were able to increase overall revenue by 83%. But there are also benefits for those who choose to mentor someone else: On average, those who choose to be a mentor are promoted six times more often than their colleagues not taking part in a mentorship.

What’s more exciting is seeing how this dynamic has worked in the past for the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. For example, Steve Jobs called his senior partner, Mike Markkula, the “adult supervisor” of Apple, not only because Markkula was his senior and an early investor in the company, but because Markkula kept the company’s brand and vision on track. In effect, he kept Jobs grounded through the years.

Another classic example of mentorship is Michael Bloomberg and Billy Salomon. Salomon hired Bloomberg to work as a trader for his company. Over time, Bloomberg, a man with humble beginnings, developed a rapport with Salomon, who promoted Bloomberg. Now, Bloomberg is the eighth wealthiest person on the planet. But Bloomberg claims it was Salomon’s leadership through the years that guided him, as he sought to embody the same principles.

How to find a mentor

So, how do you find a mentor? It’s a process that takes some time, but it can be broken down into eight easy steps:

1. Define your goals

Writing down your goals and what you hope to achieve will increase your chances of success. Whether you’ve already started your venture or not, having clearly defined goals is a must.

2. Identify someone you admire

Once you have your goals established, you need to find someone you respect. It’s ideal if they work in your industry and have an interest in your company. This way, they can reflect on their own experiences to help you.

3. Ask the right questions

When you’ve found this person, develop a professional relationship with them and ask relevant questions. This will show your desire to be successful, and will help them gauge you as a professional.

4. Assess the fit

At this point, you should have an idea of how qualified they are to be your mentor. If you are comfortable talking with them, then schedule a time to meet with them in a casual setting.

5. Establish a relationship

Now that you’ve met with them several times in person, schedule regular meetings once a week so you can continue to pick their brain about topics related to your business.

6. Show genuine interest

Of course, you need to show the same enthusiasm for their own projects. If your mentor talks about their business, show you’ve been listening by inquiring about their progress. At this point, you should also be applying their advice. Tell them how their advice has helped.

7. Make the ask

You may think your mentorship is already established, but to truly solidify it, you should formally ask them — in person — to be your mentor. This will allow you both to discuss your goals and expectations for the future.

8. Offer something in return

You should always show your gratitude for their time and advice. At the same time, you should be honest with them about their own ideas. This will improve your ability to communicate effective advice, and will help you one day be a mentor for someone else.

Again, this is a process that takes some time. You by no means should rush into a mentorship. The best possible scenario is that it happens rather naturally. Often times, you forge relationships with others by networking and simply being an active member in your niche. This way, you will meet the right people organically and can begin the process by simply connecting with them on Linkedin, or discussing professional matters in a social setting.

Once you have a mentor, you should also look for ways to give back. There are plenty of new entrepreneurs who would welcome the guiding hand and advice of a seasoned professional. Be open to helping others, and you will likely see the benefits manifest in your own life, both professionally and personally.

How to Find the Perfect Mentor

About Zach Painter

zachp@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

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