How an Entrepreneur Hunts for the Right Mentor(s)
Author: Ray Cao
Entrepreneurs are a lonely breed and it’s because of this loneliness that we constantly yearn for help and improvement. One effective way of getting help is to find a good mentor. Good entrepreneur mentors can be found everywhere but it’s not easy finding one that’s perfect for you.
In this post, I hope to share some of the key things to look at when finding a mentor for you and your business. A good mentor can go a long way for the entrepreneur both personally and professionally. If you don’t have one or have had trouble finding a good one, then keep reading.
Why one mentor might not be enough
Mentors come in all different shapes, sizes and forms. There isn’t one universal mentor who is going to have the answers for everything. And that’s why it’s important to always keep looking. In the same way that I form an advisory board or a board of directors, I’m looking for mentors who bring different things to the table. Why put all of your eggs in one basket? It limits your scope and often times will only feed you what you want to hear.
One of my earliest mentors is the founder of a large charity organization. We get together once a month so that he’s able to dissect my business and leadership challenges. It’s fresh to get mentorship from someone who spends their time in a very different world from you. What you will find is that the solutions are similar but the problems are just packaged differently.
I have another mentor who runs a fast growing startup. Both of us come from a similar background and are similar in age, family and education. Since we’re able to relate to each other so well, it’s incredibly useful to bounce business ideas and challenges off each other. You need to have someone who you can easily relate to in the short term. Having your sights on a lofty long-term goal is great, but focusing on the baby steps along the way is going to pay off far more in the end.
Another mentor of mine is an executive at one of the country’s largest banks. He’s what I consider to be a “personal mentor”. He is the person that keeps my personal life in check. When we get together, we talk about family and about our personal lives. I know I’m not alone when it comes to the challenges of juggling a busy professional life with an important personal life. You need to be asked difficult questions that cannot be ignored. When was the last time that you had a vacation with the family? How is your significant other dealing with your hectic schedule as of late? Are you sleeping well? Are you missing workout sessions? We can never ignore our personal lives because it has such a great impact on our professional lives.
Long-term relationship versus a one-night stand
Finding a good mentor and building a strong relationship takes time. Don’t count on things happening overnight. It takes a strong time investment on both sides in order to make it a meaningful and valuable relationship. Remember, finding a good mentor should never feel like a one night stand. It’s easy for the first encounter to have a lot of sizzle but you don’t want that to fade. You want to dig deeper and really understand if the person is right for you and vice versa.
One rule of thumb that I always use when finding a mentor is to treat it as though I’m looking for the right employee. You need to keep searching until you find one that fits both your skills and your personality. Would you ever settle with an employee who doesn’t really care about your company or the work they do? Probably not. So why would you settle with a mentor who doesn’t really care about making you the best that you can be? A good mentor is in it for the long run.
Take the time to find yourself the right mentors. You’ll be surprised by just how rewarding it can be to find the right people. Don’t ever settle.
Tags: entrepreneur entrepreneurs mentor personal mentor personality ray cao mentorship