By Amanda Ronan
People often imagine entrepreneurs as individuals toiling away at their desks to create new products by themselves, but the people who are most successful in business don’t go at it alone. Even if you’re just starting out in the industry, business professionals spend a lot of time bouncing ideas off of colleagues, teammates, friends and family members.
More times than not, sustainable businesses are created by motivated and educated people that gain these traits through experience, which recent graduates usually lack. This is where mentors come in. The lessons you can learn from a mentor will help improve your business practices, ethics and, hopefully, overall success. Read about some of the ways a business mentor can impact your career.
The Value Add of Mentors
They Know More Than You
Find a mentor that has been in the industry for a while or runs their business the way you hope to. They can help by teaching you to write business plans, budgeting tactics and even the day-to-day operations of a successful business. Business mentors may share tips and tricks that they’ve gathered throughout the years and support you through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. They’ve lived through this before, learning from their mistakes and successes, and can impart some of the valuable lessons they’ve accumulated over the years.
They Are Objective
It can be difficult to observe yourself and your experiences with an objective perspective. Mentors can give you an honest review of areas in your business that need improvement, as well as point out the areas that are doing well. You’ll want to find a mentor that is very honest with you and who knows how to offer constructive criticism in order to make you a better businessperson. Honest feedback is key, especially at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, and tough love is a tried and true way to promote growth.
They Offer Discipline
Having a business mentor means there’s someone to keep you accountable in achieving your career goals and consistently check-in to see how you’re doing through the process. This can motivate you to make progress and discipline you to continue to improve and grow. A strong work ethic and a drive to succeed can make or break an entrepreneur. This is something your mentor should know well, so they can not only monitor you in this area but provide some advice from their own experiences in this area.
They Have Connections
The saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Although education does play a significant factor in the success of a business, networking is also a significant factor. Mentors that have worked in business for years or even decades are valuable connectors. They may introduce to you to future investors and contributors to your business as well as help specify your target audience. Expanding your social network gives you an in with senior-level decision makers that you may not have had access to without the connections of your mentor. They can help you form relationships that lead to opportunities for growth and development for your career and your business.
With the value and significance of a business mentor in find, here’s some information on how to find a business mentor.
Where to Find a Business Mentor
Close to home
You may already know someone that has the skills and traits you’re looking for in a mentor. Make a list of the people that you know well and then expand that list to people you are acquainted with. If you’re drawing a blank, consider going through your social media accounts and see if anyone sticks out or meets your criteria.
Take the next step and reach out to those people about potential mentorship opportunities. LinkedIn can be an especially great tool as it shows not only your connections but the people they know as well. Common friends can provide a starting point for conversation when initiating a business relationship for someone you meet online.
This might seem like an obvious way to find a business mentor, but many people hesitate to ask a coworker or manager for business advice. Remember that everyone has to start somewhere and asking for assistance is not weak or a sign of failure.
Approach your manager or someone in HR and ask if there are established mentorship programs or similar opportunities for employees. Finding a mentor at work is a great way to see how your new skills can benefit the industry that you’re already a part of. Learning about somebody else’s work and career trajectory can also inspire you to think beyond your current position.
There are many online mentoring services that connect small business owners with mentors. You might meet with the person over a video conference or even by email. Just because the person isn’t in the same town or city as you doesn’t mean they aren’t a valuable resource. By learning about different local markets, you might open yourself up to new opportunities in different parts of the country. Thanks to the internet, people all over the world are closer than ever, and you just might find you have friends in high places.
In the classroom
Going back to school for a new degree in business, such as your MBA, or taking classes in marketing or entrepreneurship can also help you meet new people. By connecting with the business community at your college or university, you could find a business mentor while also staying on top of the latest research and information in your field. Look to your professors for guidance as well as any students who are further along in their careers than you may be. If the school offers any networking opportunities or business-related clubs or organizations, take advantage of those resources. Finding a mentor is all about using the resources already available to you.
The professors in the Colangelo School of Business at Grand Canyon University are experts in their fields and are always willing to discuss new opportunities with eager and motivated students. To learn more about how Grand Canyon University’s Colangelo College of Business provides students with the right environment to expand their network and find a mentor, visit our website or click the Request More Information Button on this page.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.