Mentors bring knowledge, skills, and possibly the wisdom that comes from experience to a mentoring relationship. Good mentors understand the challenges mentees face, and help them learn how to think and make decisions based on good judgment.
Mentors teach mentees how to be better.
Many mentors will tell you they have had failures along the way, and while they hurt, they have learned from them and become better. Failure itself is not a good thing, but the learnings from it can help us be even more successful going forward.
Finding the right mentor at the right time is key. Because your startup stage will change as you go from idea to product, to market. So the question is often how or where do I find a startup mentor?
Let’s look at six different places and ways you can find your startup mentor/s.
Technology makes things easier. Lookup a potential mentor on Linkedin or Google or any other site where you’ll be able to see where they work, their skills, experience, and their affiliations. See if there is anything in common with your personal interests that you could use as a way to make an introduction and build a foundation for a potential relationship.
Ask yourself, “Which needs do I definitely have?” This will help you target specific mentors.
Google your potential mentors. Review their LinkedIn profile. Find them anywhere and everywhere you can think of. Is there anyone in your existing network with connections to someone with the skills you need?
Ex bosses & teachers
If you went to business school, reach out to your favorite professors, and ask if they would be willing to mentor you in areas where they are experts.
Similarly, if you look up to an old boss you had worked for, ask them if they can spend some time with you every month and coach you in building leadership skills or building your startup team.
Since they already know you, it will be easier to get them on board.
Accelerators & incubators
In the past few years, an incredible number of incubators and accelerators have opened up. First, incubators are generally places where you can rent a space to do your work. As long as you pay your “rent” you can be there. In some cases, incubators offer a nice set of options; funding, mentor pool, workshops, scheduled networking, and events that could be of interest to the group.
An incubator can be a place to make some great networking contacts. There is a wide range of incubators. Some are affiliated with schools and universities, others are non-profits set up by state and local governments that may subsidize them.
A number of incubators are set up by the type of product line or industry affiliation. Many are also set up by what is done in the space (for example, app development, maker-spaces that are set up with tools to help create products) or by the type of individuals that work out of the spaces (such as artists and musicians).
Startup events, groups & associations
Most cities host weekly or monthly meetings where startups go and pitch to industry experts. Try to sign up for these events and see if you can get someone who likes what you are working on and is interested to be a mentor to you.
Lots of startup events also happen and are organized by big startups where they host networking sessions for entrepreneurs and thought leaders to connect.
Online mentoring platforms
There are lots of platforms online where you can find and network with people experienced in their fields providing a mix of coaching, consulting & mentoring.
Growthmentor is an example. With usually little or no cost, you’ll be able to sign up, find prospective mentors in your area of expertise, chat with them and potentially meet in person to begin an extended partnership. You may also be able to sustain the mentorship exclusively online.
The whole idea of getting mentors is to solve tough business problems. And solving these problems differentiates successful startups from their unsuccessful counterparts.
Solving problems requires asking the right questions before seeking answers. For newbie entrepreneurs, it is difficult to ask the most important questions about their startup. So, we at Tactyqal have created a set of business assessments that will help entrepreneurs make important business decisions within a few minutes using a series of objective questions.
To conclude, different people succeed in different environments. It is hard to find mentors who have built successful startups as there aren’t many. So a lot of mentors turn out to be veterans with top management experience in fortune 500 companies. However, such mentors, although successful in a structural environment, does not mean they will be successful in a startup environment. So, before you choose a mentor, take our mentor assessment find out if they are the right mentor for your business.