Finding the right mentor for you can be really difficult. To begin with it’s hard to know who will act as a mentor as they rarely go around with a badge on them saying “I love to mentor others.” Generally we want to be mentored by someone we see as successful and therefore they can appear to be unreachable, too busy, beyond us or unlikely to have an interest in us.
However, if that’s how you feel maybe you are chasing the wrong person to be a mentor for you. There are options other than just hoping a kind hearted successful business person will take it upon themselves to support you in your business journey.
Let’s think about this for a minute. Through various funded schemes it is possible to often find a free mentor. These are people who are willing to act as mentors and may have received some training from projects such as Mentor Me and Virgin Start up Mentors. Alternatively check with your local enterprise support agency or council and see if they have a similar scheme. On the whole these mentors who provide free support will have a limit to what they can provide. Check and make sure they will add value and not just take up time with little return.
You can also ask a successful person, possibly someone you see as a role model and ask them to mentor you. Some people see this as a way of giving back. Maybe someone helped them when they were starting out and this is a way of passing that on to the next generation of entrepreneurs. Think carefully before you ask someone, what is it you want from them and how much commitment you are expecting.
Your other option is of course to find a mentor who will take you on as a client. Just as business coaches have become more popular, business mentors are increasing in popularity and can often offer coaching as well as a mentoring relationship. Find someone you aspire to be like, has experience of running a business similar to your own or someone who can add an additional value, such as a skills set you don’t have or an understanding of your situation /work.
Below are some more tips on how to find a mentor to suit your needs.
Tip One – Know why you really want a mentor
Before you speak to a potential mentor do some research around what a mentor is and what they can do for you. Think about your business, where you currently are in your business journey and where you would like to get to. This will help you identify the right mentor for you, ie if you need to develop your business as a franchise, find a mentor who has worked in or developed franchises before.
It may not be about having someone who has done exactly the same as you but more that they can understand and help you on your current and future journey.
Tip Two – Know why you are asking this specific person to mentor you
Following on from Tip One. Before you ask someone to mentor you, be sure why you are asking them and what you are trying to achieve from having a mentor. Is it about personal development, business growth, business sale or various things? The clearer you can be about what you want to achieve the easier it is.
When you approach the potential mentor explain what it is you are looking for help with and how you feel they can help. That way they can see how they can practically support you, rather than just seeing it as possible relationship with no clear aim.
Tip Three – Consider how much support you need and if this person can help
Be realistic. If you are asking someone to mentor you for free, how much time and effort do you expect them to give you? Some people may be willing to put an hour or so a month aside for your mentoring, but if you feel you need more than that it is possible that you need to pay a mentor and agree a more in-depth support package,
Tip Four – Choose someone you respect and value
When someone mentors you they will be offering you suggestions, discussing your ideas and business and encouraging you to look at different options. If you don’t respect them and their ideas and experiences then it is likely to be difficult to trust them or feel able to fully open up. Choose someone whose options you value and judgement you trust. Mutual respect will enable you to build a powerful relationship.
Tip Five – Don’t expect your mentor to answer all your problems
Whilst many mentors are willing to answer direct questions and support you in resolving your problems they will also be keen to help develop you so that you can resolve your own problems and not become dependent on them.
Finally be sure why you are seeking a mentor and understand that for many people mentoring means different things. It may be worth considering what mentoring means to you and discuss that with them before you embark on a mentoring relationship.
Interested in speaking to me about my work as a mentor then take a look at my mentor programs