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How to get a business mentor

Well Connected

How to get a business mentor

Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Larry Page all had mentors. Should you?

Whether you’re starting or scaling your business, having a mentor a few steps ahead is uplifting. Even the most independent entrepreneurs benefit from a second opinion on their ideas. So why not ask someone who has been in your shoes already? You’re ready to take on the world. Let your mentor help you get there much quicker.

I spoke to Tirad Sorooshian, Chair of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation Mentors’ Panel, to pick his brain on making the most of your mentor’s expertise.

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Here’s what you need to do next.

 

Finding a mentor

This is where a lot of people get stuck. Securing a mentor is a huge step, and there are a few ways you can do this…

  • Ask your network.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Whether it’s someone with a completely different business to yours, or someone you admire on Twitter, they have the advice you’re looking for. Richard Branson probably won’t get back to you, but someone more local might. And even if you’re turned down by them, they may recommend someone else for you.

  • Virgin Startup

If you’re granted a business loan through Virgin Startup, you’ll also get the added bonus of free mentoring and advice for 12 months. 

  • Mentoring Organisations

Take your pick. From the Princes Trust, Protégé.com or the National Federation of Enterprise Agencies, see what suits you. There are also entrepreneurial programmes you can join that offer mentoring support, such as the New Entrepreneurs Foundation.

 

2. Choosing your mentor

Can you explain why you want a mentor in one sentence? Try it.

Before diving in to that must-have connection, you need to be clear why you’re doing this. Have a clear goal of what you want to get out of a mentoring relationship. Make your mentor the right person to help you in the short and long term.

Narrow down what kind of person you’re looking for – do you want insight into a specific sector, someone who has experience with start-ups, or a person to make you accountable for your business goals?


Mentoring is very personal. You want to open your business dreams to the right person, so spend time selecting the right mentor for you.

3. Working with your mentor
The hard part isn’t over yet. Someone may look like the perfect fit for you on paper, but you won’t know until you meet them in person.

The first few meetings are about building trust. Be prepared when you go to meet them. To really establish that relationship make the most of your time by knowing exactly what you want to gain from having a mentor. They are there to be your advisor - so arrive knowing what they can help you with. But if the chemistry doesn’t feel right when you first meet, then move on. Politely, of course!

Set your expectations straight away, and make the goals you set together a priority.


A few extra tips…

  • As you progress, so will your mentoring. Keep reviewing the best use of your time so you are getting the support you need for that time in your business.
  • Leave your ego behind. Listen to your mentor and ask questions about the challenges ahead.
  • Honesty is best. Be open about your knowledge gaps and your mentor’s.
  • Mentoring is a two way relationship. Be mindful of your mentor’s schedule and how much you’re asking of them.


Looking for a mentor? Or want to put yourself forward to be one? Tell us in the comments and we’ll see if we have the right connection for you.

 

Take a look at our follow up article on what to do when you first meet your mentor.

Comments
Pitching In

Hi,

 

I'm new to this platform and just wanted to ask about being mentored by someone from the jewellery trade. I have a small online jewellery business selling ethically sourced and made jewellery. I am really looking for a mentor to help me understand and create a really strong brand in a very saturated space. Someone who brings to the table all the experience to make a start-up successful. 

 

Thank you