How To Find a Business Advisor to Accelerate My Startup
No one can walk the path toward your goals except for you — but finding your way is often much easier with help from a seasoned mentor or business advisor. Mentorship is a key ingredient in many entrepreneur’s success stories because mentors can offer the guidance and support that every entrepreneur needs to be able to find somewhere. Who better to provide it than a fellow entrepreneur who has already navigated their own, similar path?
Finding a mentor in your niche is the perfect way to get connected with relevant insights that will help to accelerate your personal and professional growth. Best of all, when you use a service like Mentorcam to find an advisor, you get one-on-one access to your mentor and their specially tailored advice.
Let’s explore some of the best ways to find the right mentor and nurture a lasting, successful mentoring relationship with them.
What Is a Mentorship?
A mentor is a knowledgeable and successful individual with relevant firsthand experience who advises, guides, and supports a less experienced individual (known as a mentee). The relationship between a mentor and a mentee is a mentorship.
Mentorships can exist for just about any purpose, and you don’t have to work with just one mentor at a time; for example, you might have a sales mentor to help you build your revenue strategy, a VC mentor to help you fund your startup, a product development mentor to help you create an MVP — the list could go on.
Mentorship is valuable for any entrepreneur because it accelerates learning. A mentor can help you avoid common pitfalls and capitalize on opportunities, as well as lend an experienced perspective to every challenge you face. Additionally, a mentor is someone who can offer emotional support from a place of true understanding throughout the ups and downs on the entrepreneurial journey.
What Is the Mentee’s Role in a Mentorship?
As the mentee, your role in the mentorship is just as important as your mentor’s. The role of a mentee extends beyond simply being a passive recipient of advice. To get the most out of your mentorship, you’ll need to engage actively with your mentor’s feedback and make a commitment to putting their advice into practice.
Here are a few of the main things that are expected from you as a mentee:
Mentees should proactively seek guidance and advice from their mentors in whichever areas they are struggling or unsure of themselves. While it’s part of a mentor’s role to recognize the best ways to apply their expertise to the mentee’s situation, it’s also part of the mentee’s role to identify the most impactful areas to work on. Taking a proactive approach includes setting clear, concrete goals (both short-term and long-term) and collaboratively discussing your goals with your mentor.
Open communication in a mentorship is a two-way responsibility. First of all, effective communication is crucial for making sure both mentor and mentee are aligned on goals and the steps that should be taken within the mentorship to reach them.
In addition, the mentee should feel comfortable expressing their challenges and concerns without fear of judgment, and the mentor should be capable of providing honest feedback in a direct and constructive manner. Transparent communication fosters a trusting environment that enables a constructive and well-rounded learning experience.
Accepting feedback with grace is a critical part of being a good mentee. The whole point of receiving mentorship is to improve by learning from another entrepreneur’s experience, and you can only do that if you’re willing to open yourself up to constructive criticism. Remember that a mentor is not there to judge you — even if it feels like it sometimes. They’re there to point out your blind spots, offer their advice, act as a sounding board as you put that advice into practice, and cheer you on as you make progress.
Preparing Yourself for a Mentorship
Before you commit to a formal mentorship, it’s important to first think about your career goals and the areas you want to improve. Take some time to reflect on your short and long-term aspirations to help you clarify in your mind what kinds of skills or topics you want to focus on with your mentor(s).
Once you’ve developed a clear picture of your own goals, you need to be able to express them effectively to your mentor. In a few bullet points, write down a clear and concise list of objectives that you can share with your mentor to help you communicate your goals for the mentorship.
Consider the following questions as you outline your goals:
- What specific challenges do you hope to overcome?
- What skills do you want to develop or enhance?
- Are there particular areas of your personal or professional development that feel particularly urgent to you right now?
Developing a clear and articulate list of objectives for your mentorship will not only make it easier to find the right mentor but it will also lay the foundation for a more productive mentorship.
Once you’ve identified your goals, you should take a bit of time to assess your current knowledge and abilities. A thorough familiarity with your own strengths and weaknesses serves as the basis for any personalized improvement plan and will make it possible to have more meaningful conversations with your mentor.
How To Find a Mentor
Now that you understand what a mentorship is and you’ve taken the proper steps to prepare yourself, you’re ready to start looking for a mentor. Here are some tips on how to find a business mentor who can help you reach your career goals:
1. Tap into Your Network
Start by exploring your existing network. Reach out to any colleagues, friends, or acquaintances who might have valuable connections or know someone with the type of expertise you’re seeking. The best way to approach a potential mentor is to get an introduction from someone they already know.
When asking around about possible mentors, be clear about your goals and the specific areas in which you’re seeking mentorship. This will make it easier for your network to recommend likely candidates.
2. Explore Industry Connections
Look for potential mentors among the individuals in your industry who have track records of success. Attend conferences, seminars, and other industry events and meet as many professionals with relevant experience as you can.
When you approach a potential mentor, express interest in their work and segue into your desire to learn from their expertise, highlighting how you believe their industry-specific knowledge could benefit you, specifically.
3. Use Online Platforms Like Mentorcam
Online platforms make it possible to access larger pools of potential mentors than ever before. For example, creating a compelling LinkedIn profile that highlights your skills, goals, and professional background can make it easier to network with potential mentors.
You can also use a mentorship platform like Mentorcam to aid your search for a mentor. With Mentorcam, you can browse a plethora of pre-vetted mentors from a wide range of professional backgrounds. No matter what type of business advice you’re looking for, you can get practical tips from a relevant advisor with real experience in the areas where you’re struggling.
Nurturing the Mentorship
Once you’ve found the right mentor, you still need to work at building a productive and lasting mentoring relationship with them. Here are a few ways to successfully nurture a mentorship:
1. Set Clear Goals
Every mentorship needs clear and measurable goals. Building your mentorship on well-defined objectives from the get-go will set the relationship up for long-term success. It’s also very important for both mentor and mentee to openly communicate expectations to ensure total alignment. Establishing clear goals and expectations up front will eliminate confusion down the line and allow you and your mentor to focus on working together productively toward shared objectives.
2. Communicate Effectively
Effective communication is another ingredient in every successful mentorship. Checking in regularly and keeping up an open dialogue is essential. During these check-ins, be transparent about your challenges since the last meetup, share any progress you’ve made, and proactively seek feedback. It’s also crucial to practice active listening during your conversations with your mentor and ask clarifying questions if necessary.
3. Respect Your Mentor's Time
Mentors are busy people with their own professional commitments. Respect your mentor’s schedule by showing up to your meetings on time and prepared to work on something meaningful. Being respectful of your mentor’s time not only enables you to get more out of the mentorship, but it also demonstrates to your mentor that you’re aware of their time’s value and helps to strengthen the mentoring relationship.
4. Show Gratitude to Your Mentor
As with many things in life, a basic show of appreciation can go a long way. Remember to express your gratitude to your mentor for their time and effort. You can do this with a simple “thank you” at the end of each meetup or with more specific acknowledgements of the ways their support impacts your journey along the way. After the mentorship ends, consider sending your mentor a hand-written thank-you note or other tangible sign of your appreciation.
Learning from the Mentor
Don’t forget that a successful mentorship is a two-way street that requires active input from you, the mentee. Here are a few of the best active steps you can take to get the most out of what your mentor has to teach you:
1. Active Listening
Always employ your active listening skills during mentorship sessions. Pay close attention to your mentor's advice, take notes, ask questions, and truly invest yourself in understanding the wisdom they have to offer. Active engagement from you will enhance the learning experience and foster a more meaningful (and more valuable) conversation.
2. Seeking and Applying Feedback
Try to view each piece of constructive feedback your mentor gives you as an opportunity for growth. Take their advice to heart, act on it, and continuously seek new ways to implement it into your strategy. Being open to new ideas and willing to adapt your approach based on your mentor’s feedback will vastly improve your ability to get the most out of your mentorship.
3. Documenting Your Progress
As your relationship with your mentor develops, keep a record of the progress you make and the insights you gain. Documenting your journey will help you track your development and identify patterns in your growth, which can be a valuable reference for guiding further progress. Not only does a structured record of your mentorship provide you with a clear roadmap for future growth,but it also allows you to revisit specific milestones and reinforce key lessons from your mentor.
The Lasting Value of Mentorship
Finding a mentor might sound like a challenging task, but mentorships are some of the most valuable relationships you’ll build throughout your journey as an entrepreneur. With help from a mentor or business advisor, you can expedite your professional development and unlock new opportunities for your startup — not just at the beginning of its life, but throughout all its ups and downs.
How to Find a Life Coach / Mentor Near Me
Take a look at our extensive list of mentors to find one who’s a perfect match for your needs. All of our mentors are available for remote, online meetings at times that align with both parties’ schedules.