Building a startup is a bumpy journey with plenty of ups and downs.
Various skills and strengths are required from an entrepreneur, but how multi-talented do you have to be?
Mentors can fill in the knowledge gaps, help to push your thinking into the right direction and connect you to useful people. Inevitably, having a good mentor can be crucial to building and growing your business to success.
Mentors not only give you business advice on strategy or connect you to the right people, they can also provide support on day-to-day operations of your business and listen to your problems. But a mentor is not your boss, teacher or parent; a mentor is your ‘enabler’. A person and mind-guide that you can bounce ideas at and that helps you to explore and get on the right track. Here are some points to keep in mind when you choose your mentor, making most of the time you have with your mentor and the expertise he/she can provide you:
1. Know what you want from a mentor.
What exactly do you need help with? Is it social media, defining your growth strategy, accessing funding or idea validation? Given the nature of mentoring, there are mentors that can help you to grow your business and others can help you find your right market niche.
2. Define your need and get the right expert, not a generalist.
Do you know what you need help with? Do you know your problems or are you hesitating to move to the next stage? Ideally, your mentor should be an expert in your industry – hospitality, FinTech, HR, … – who knows about industry dynamics and the issues as well as industry key players. Generalist are great for the ideation stage, but experts in an industry can advise you on your particular product/service, market and customers.
3. Mentorship has a lifecycle – Get a mentor for your startup stage.
Just as you grow up, your startup grows up too and needs a different mentor for different stages of business growth. For instance, in the initial stages when you map out your business idea, carry out your market research and develop your business plan, a different mentor is needed than in the stage of growing your business while getting your 2nd equity investment.
4. Don’t start working with the ‘A’-list experts, working with a ‘B/C’-lists is often more practical.
When you realise that you have been spending a great deal of money on social ads such as Facebook without getting good returns, you’ll reach out to a paid advertising expert or growth hacker who can guide and coach you to leverage the metrics. Although it is natural to reach out to ‘A’-list experts, they might not offer the right advice to your business or are difficult to reach. Working with ‘B/C’-list experts is often more practical for this reason and gets you started with the groundwork.
Choosing the right mentor at each stage of your business is crucial, especially choosing the mentor that can help you to take your business to the next level, not only helping to solve current issues.