The benefits of using a mentor for your new business start-up
If you’re embarking on a new business venture, before you dive into your start-up headfirst, you may want to consider seeking the advice of a mentor. With this in mind, the team at fivesquid thought it would be a good idea to explore what mentors actually are and how they can benefit the start-up entrepreneur.
What’s a mentor?
First up, before deciding if they’re useful we need to understand what one is. A mentor is a person who stands behind their client (the entrepreneur) and makes themselves available whenever needed as a sounding board and reference point, offering guidance and counsel based on experience. To be clear a mentor is not a consultant nor a company executive - they don’t have an actual role in the company. This is to ensure that they remain objective - over time there can be an overlap whereby they move to an executive position - it depends on your start-up journey.
Investors in People have a more succinct definition: “a mentor is someone who successfully develops someone else.”
What’s the value of a mentor to entrepreneurs?
Most entrepreneurs appreciate having somebody who they trust and who doesn’t have a vested interest in the outcome of any particular issue. That person will simply give their personal interpretation on how to handle any particular issues that crop up. The value of the mentor is to help enhance the entrepreneur’s approach to threats and opportunities.
How does an entrepreneur work with a mentor?
Working with a mentor should be an intuitive and low impact advisory process. The entrepreneur seeks guidance and that guidance is delivered in a wholly constructive and supportive manner. The mentor is not telling that person what to do, they're giving guidance on how the entrepreneur could tackle a problem or grasp an opportunity.
Timing of a mentor?
Ideally, an entrepreneur would want a mentor as early as one can be afforded. However, at any stage their services can be beneficial, especially in times of growth, change and adversity.
How to find a mentor?
In all honesty, word of mouth is the best starting point. The attributes sought should be someone that has mentored before in a similar environment - someone that understands small start-ups and scaling, will give the best insight to an entrepreneur rather than someone who only has experience with large corporates. Sector knowledge is not always essential or necessary. You may consider someone that has not mentored before if their career has seen them influence change without controlling it, for example strategy roles or corporate staff roles. Obviously, you need to have a rapport, respect and personalities that can work together - sounds obvious but vital to the mentoring process being successful.
Perhaps now you can see the value and benefit mentors bring. If you’ve used a mentor in the past or if you’re considering enlisting the counsel of one let us know - we’d love to hear your experience. And if you’re a mentor why not list your services on fivesquid? - we’ve got a lot of entrepreneurs using the site and you could be just what they’re looking for!
Update: Check out our other blog flipping the lense and looking at the process from the mentor's perspective - it's an intersting role to play and our findings show it's certainly not for everyone. Read the post here.
Source: Investors In People