Brice - Small Business & Start-Up Enthusiast
This event got me thinking about mentoring within the small businesses and start-up communities. Successful people tend to have a mentor. It is a great way to get the help and support you need. But how do you go about finding a mentor? This is a widely-discussed topic and I hope I can bring clarity for small businesses and start-ups. Formal mentorship is someone who agrees to meet with you and help shape your career over time. This is very structured and usually takes quite a bit of investment of time for both the mentor and mentee. Having a formal mentor is great, but is that the only way to go? What do you really need from a mentor? Who could be your mentor? Should you have more than one mentor?
I have found that if you need help with something, it is simply best to ask for help. Reaching out to someone you admire or see accomplishing things may be a great way to start up a conversation. You may be surprised to find out how many successful people are willing to help you out. If you are running into a problem in your business, then contact someone who is doing similar things and see if they have any insight into your problem. They may not even be in the same line of work but most businesses have things in common. Help can come from the most unexpected places.
Say you want to get the attention of someone specific, and asking them for help does not seem like the best plan for you. That is quite alright. You can find out how to be active in their circles (physically and digitally) and then participate. You can also look for ways you can add value to them. Do they need something? Do you see a way you can help them out? Simply offering value to someone you admire is a great way to open a line of communication with them.
Do you really need a direct dialogue with someone to learn from them? Probably not. Reading their books, participating with their online presence, attending their hosted events, etc. If you simply observe what people are doing you can take away many new lessons to apply to your business and start-up. That is why many successful people read so much, pay attention to their communities, and find ways to participate. It does take some time do accomplish this, but it will bring you so much added value without having to formally ask a person to devote so much of their time to develop you and your business.
Sometimes mentors will seek you out. Really? How does that happen? If you work at and on your business diligently, put in the hard work, and become successful at what you do, then mentors will want to talk to you. This sounds a little “cart before the horse”, but trust me it works. If you are doing something well then people will want to know more about what you are doing.
Can you apply these methods to many successful people you want to emulate? Absolutely, and you should. Likely, no one person will be the significant springboard for your business. You must learn a great deal about many things. You likely don’t even know you need to know about them yet to be successful in business. As you come to find out what it is you need to know, find those people who can help you achieve that knowledge.
I leave you with this. If there is something you need help with, ask. If there something you can do to add value, do it. If there is something you need to know, go out and find where that knowledge lives and participate. Get down to work and make it happen. Finally, rinse and repeat these steps with as many people that you believe to be successful.