Whether you’re starting or successfully running a small business, having a mentor is beneficial. Studies show that executives that were mentored have higher positions and salaries than their counterparts. What’s more, businesses with mentors increased their revenue by over 80%.
A unique aspect about the mentor-mentee relationship is that it’s a win-win situation. You, the mentee, can receive guidance and advice regarding your business — from discovering the right small business funding options to taking your company another step higher. At the same time, your mentor will be intrinsically motivated to help you succeed, as it’s an extremely rewarding feeling and experience. Furthermore, mentors are more likely than their peers to receive promotions.
When it comes to finding your mentor, it’s important to remember that the relationship is based on friendship. Your mentor should be someone you admire and have worked with in the past. For example, if you ask a random CEO to be your mentor, they’ll likely decline as they have little to no interest in you personally or professionally.
Ideally, you want to find someone with expertise in your industry. That way, this person will understand the ins and outs of your niche, from the hiring process to ensuring that your business runs smoothly not only in the first one to two years, but ten years down the road. The most successful CEOs owe their success to the supervision and advice of a mentor.
Steve Jobs, for example, claimed that his senior partner, Mike Markkula, was Apple’s “adult supervisor” because he kept the vision and branding of the company focused and on track. We all revere Steve Jobs for being a pioneer, but even titans like Jobs need someone supporting them to keep their head on straight. The same goes for you. Find someone you know you can trust, who has a vested interest in the success of your venture, and who will take the time to listen to you problems so they can help you navigate through them.
So, now that you can see the importance of finding a mentor, how do you find one? You can break it down into eight steps:
- First, list goals and what you want to gain from your relationship with your mentor.
- Next, find someone you admire who has qualities you want to embody.
- Talk to this person, and ask for their advice to build rapport.
- In a casual setting, assess their style of communication to see if it’s a good fit.
- Meet with your mentor on a regular basis.
- Inquire about their projects and follow their advice.
- Once you’ve established a connection, ask them to be your mentor — in person.
- In return, listen to their ideas and make sure you thank them for their time.
Of course, this eight-step process doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, if you really take the necessary time to scope out the right individual and develop your relationship, these “simple steps” could look more like phases. The whole process might take you six months, or longer!
But that’s the point: You want to find someone you truly learn from. By taking the time to forge a meaningful, professional relationship, you can absorb all the advice and lessons they have to teach you.
Picking a mentor can seem a little overwhelming. Especially because it’s typical to have more than one mentor, with each having expertise in different areas. To help you get started, Fundera created the visual below outlining 8 steps to finding the perfect mentor.