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15 tips for working with business mentors & advisors for startups

In an earlier post, we have covered 6 places where you can find an ideal mentor for your business.

Today, we are going to cover 15 tips for working with business mentors & advisors for your startup.

So, without delay, let’s list them.

  1. Choose a mentor with a lot of experience in the startup world as an overall mentor. Only people who have worked in startups understand the ups and downs and also know that personal life and startup life is intertwined.
  2. Don’t focus on having one mentor. Keep in mind the difference between an overall mentor as compared to a specialty mentor. An expert in finance would not be of much help when it comes to growth hacking your business. In the initial stages of a business, team building, product & sales are very important functions. See if you can get a mentor for each of these areas to guide you.
  3. Make a Roadmap of what success looks like while looking for a mentor. Know what you want to get out of the relationship as a mentee. The mentors you want must have the appropriate skills, background, and ideally, a temperament that will complement your own.
  4. Don’t hire a mentor for the sake of getting a mentor. A lot of people will pose as potential mentors who want to help you but only for their personal gain. They will ask for sweat equity or even payments in many cases. A mentorship agreement can be transactional so long as the mentor has been there and can promise to help you achieve your top 3-4 goals.
  5. Research potential mentors as much as you can before approaching them. Using Linkedin is a great way to search for and research potential mentors.
  6. Start with the people you know and then ask for intros to their networks.
  7. Have an elevator pitch as well as a conventional pitch ready before you start reaching out to potential mentors. Your elevator pitch doesn’t have to be perfect as you’ll get feedback along the way. When you get the chance to make your pitch, get right to it.
  8. Mentorship is a two-way road. When you reach out to a mentor, tell them how they can benefit from mentoring you. Because, just like your startup, their reputation and time are also at stake.
  9. List your business goals. You can’t make the journey without making the map first.
  10. Try to describe your ideal mentor – their traits, skills, work history, mentoring style, etc.-in writing. You might not get everything on your wish list, but think big and assume that the perfect person is out there.
  11. Once you have a mentor, be respectful, be focused, and be clear about what you hope to achieve. Provide frequent (but not relentless) updates on your progress.
  12. Set expectations. Have clarity on what each party will offer, and what will be off the table. Both parties must agree on the goals of the relationship.
  13. Determine the structure of the relationship: How often will you meet? Will you meet in person, or can the relationship be handled via email or telephone? How long is the relationship going to last?
  14. Use a common map like a lean startup canvas to make sure you and your mentor are on the same page. By using the lean canvas, you can communicate more efficiently to your mentor with the same underlying assumptions in mind.
  15. The best-laid plans can go awry. Some relationships fail. Common reasons include the mentee being unprepared, mentees expecting parenting instead of mentoring, and mentors who are more concerned with boasting about their own achievements than with teaching and helping others.
Decision making assessments for startups

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