We all know that entrepreneurship is never a linear journey, there are stops and starts and plenty of time spent trying to identify the next right step. The journey itself can also be a very lonely experience. So often as an entrepreneur, you’re starting something on your own, without a team in place. Although you might want to grow a team as your business grows, in the beginning you’re a one person show.
There are different ways to overcome that loneliness in a meaningful and deliberate way, from joining a mastermind or accountability group, to working with a coach or mentor. Finding the right mastermind or accountability group can be so rewarding, but it is often difficult to find the right balance of people. Individuals come with different experiences, different backgrounds, even different levels of commitment to their business. Some people want to meet weekly, others find it difficult to make that commitment. There are huge merits in a mastermind or accountability group, but it can be challenging as well.
Whereas working with a mentor can create the opportunity to get really inspiring guidance and support that is specific to you and your business. As entrepreneurs, we know that getting support is so incredibly important, yet we are often slow and reaching out and asking for support. What we need to acknowledge early on is, when developing concepts and growing your business, you can only spend so much time in your own head before you
start going around in circles. Your idea or concept can quickly become stale, you need to keep your tool sharp so to speak. To keep your tool sharp, you need someone else to bounce ideas, someone to share their wisdom, someone to share their experience. Which is why finding the ideal mentor can be a game changer for you and your business. The ideal mentor can be the difference between a meh outcome and an amazing outcome.
How do you find the ideal mentor?
Firstly, you need to be really clear about what you want from a mentor. What goals do you want to achieve by working with a mentor? How do you see a mentor helping you? Is there a particular skill you want help with, such as marketing? It may be that there is some industry knowledge you need to learn. Or perhaps you want to develop your leadership skills? Once you are clear about what you want, what your goals are, then you can start to look for the ideal person to support you.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of you making a shift in your own mindset, recognising that you need the support of a mentor. Once you recognise the need, you may discover that you already have the ideal person in your life, you just haven’t thought of them in this way. Once you realise what you want, there may be a light bulb moment when you realise that the ideal person is right in front of you!
It may be the case that there is a person you admire whom you think would make an ideal mentor. Maybe there is someone who has already achieved success in a way you would like to. Or perhaps there is someone who has leadership qualities you look up to. Don’t be afraid to approach this person and be open about your needs. Often they will be humbled and potentially even surprised that you regard them in this way, and you will find they are more than happy to mentor you.
You may even want to ask others if they know of someone who would be the ideal mentor for you. Referrals can be a great way to find the ideal mentor for yourself. Ensuring you are clear about what you want from a mentor will help you to reach out and ask others for referrals.
What is really important about identifying your mentor, is to ensure the person you choose has more experience than you, someone who will have the ability to impart wisdom, someone who can share their own experiences to support and guide you.
How do you work with a mentor?
Once you find the ideal mentor, you need to talk and discuss your expectations of each other. Your mentor is not someone who will get involved in your business, they will offer you wisdom and support, but they won’t do anything. Talk openly about how you both see this relationship working, what you see as the mutual benefits of working with this mentor. The first step is making sure this really is your ideal mentor. Once you’ve established that this is the right person for you, you can start to move forward with the mentoring relationship.
It is important to set up a framework for the mentoring relationship. Agree upfront how often you will meet and how long these meetings will be, don’t allow it to be open ended, you need deadlines and clear commitments in place. In addition, ensure you are clear about the role of accountability, that you will take advice and guidance on board, that you will take action.
The most important role you will play in the mentoring relationship is to ask great questions. The better the quality of your questions, the more you will gain from the relationship. Great questions will lead to breakthrough thinking, they will challenge you out of your comfort zone, they will cause deep reflection, they will challenge assumptions. Be prepared for each mentoring session with great questions.
Entrepreneurship can be a very lonely experience, but ensuring you are getting the right support from the right people such as the ideal mentor, will overcome the loneliness you may experience in a purposeful and meaningful way. Especially when the journey becomes challenging, your mentor will be the person who will keep you going through those tough times. Cherish the relationship and make the most of every interaction you have with them.