Starting a business is one of the hardest things you’ll do. When things go well, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences you can possibly have.
But if you don’t have a killer support network to help you through the hard times and celebrate the wins, it can get pretty lonely.
And we’re not just talking about family and friends (though they matter a lot) — we’re talking about informal and formal advisors, mentors, peers and even colleagues, who know what starting up is actually like.
Mentors are the people who can steer you in the right direction. They can tell you when your idea is crazy good or just plain crazy. They can help you get to the point where you even know how to look at a term sheet or an employment contract.
And they can help you make the right connections to the people who may someday change the course of your business — investors, other mentors, potential partners, future colleagues.
Ask any entrepreneur: Mentors and advisors are the unsung heroes of starting up.
Here’s how to find yours:
Step 1: Get out there.
- 10 places to find a mentor
- 16 tips for networking smarter (even if you hate networking)
- 7 steps to build the ultimate support network.
Step 2: Know what a good mentor looks like for YOU — and how to ask for it.
- How do you know if they’re a good fit? Top 3 criteria to look for
- 5 strategies to find your ideal mentor (hint: tell people you’re looking!)
- Video: the 5-minute rule for finding a business mentor.
Step 3: Make the relationship work — for you, AND for your mentor.
- Learn to ask the right questions of YOURSELF first — advice is more meaningful when you know where you’re heading and why.
- How to ask for advice (sometimes the biggest hurdle is admitting you need help)
- Ask your mentor to hold you accountable, not just give generic tips
- And remember: Always, always, always give first, THEN ask!