Two very obvious phenomena over the last ten years revolve around these two subject matters – with “entrepreneurs” and “mentors” mushrooming like nobody’s business. You may have come across an entrepreneur who is mentored by many mentors or a mentor who is mentoring many entrepreneurs.
These relationships or engagements became popular for various reasons – one obviously being simply due to the demand in the market for the need for good mentors as opposed to the supply.
Younger entrepreneurs or startups make up quite a big portion in this situation, and I guess this ties back to the behavioural patterns and attitude of this generation.
After all, younger entrepreneurs want quick results and they are most likely not willing to spend time in exploring options.
Instead, they want instant answers or solutions whenever they face challenges. Hence, a phone call to their mentor is probably one of the easiest way to address the situation.
The other reason could be attributed to the education system in which knowledge which has little use in entrepreneurship is given. Hence, starting a business after graduation is almost similar to a suicide mission. In order to address pitfalls, getting a mentor will help them to avoid mistakes and increase their survival rate.
Indeed – choosing a good mentor is not easy – not to mention whether he or she wants to mentor you. In this article, I have listed down some useful tips to consider should one decide to choose a mentor.
1. Have A Two-Way Communication
As an entrepreneur, you should be open to ideas but at the same time, you should hold on to your principles if you believe that what you do is right. A good mentor will not tell you what’s right or wrong but become a sparing partner to discuss possibilities from all angles. He or she should have an open mind instead of prejudging your ideas.
Working with a mentor who is resourceful will definitely save you a lot of trouble. This is because he or she can help you open doors to connect to parties that are important to your business. Connecting to the right person in the business circle is very crucial – as this will bring about opportunities that you can access via his or her connections. Imagine writing hundreds of emails and not getting a reply versus a phone call from your mentor to your stakeholders.
3. Don’t Go for Big Names
Many would like to be mentored by celebrity mentors, but let us be realistic. These mentors are super busy so how much time do you think they can spend with you? Yes, they might help you in connecting people but you still need someone who can give you attention. Look for a mentor who can commit his or time to guide you to succeed.
4. Find A Real Entrepreneur
No offence. I think the best mentors to young entrepreneurs are those who own their own businesses. A mentor needs to have real life experience and exposure in the business world. I have come across many mentors who do not own any business, and they work more like a counsellor or a senior who is willing to listen to your problem and motivate you when you are down. That is fine but you still do need them. In order to solve your business problems, you should talk to someone who has real business experience. Don’t take your chances – otherwise it may be detrimental to your business.
5. More Is Less
Don’t try to be smart by getting many mentors to mentor you. You will either confuse yourself or may end up offending your mentors without you realising it.
Each mentor has his or her own beliefs and approaches. And, some may work well together while others may conflict with each other. For example, if you have a watch, stay within the time frame shown from your watch. In a situation where another guy tells you a different time,
you won’t know which one to follow.
BY GAN TECK HOOI