Although plenty of entrepreneurs have succeeded without mentors, it's always easier having a helping hand. With a little time and effort, a few mentors can be lined up and, soon enough, they can change your business life for the better. While some might talk to you weekly, others once or twice a year, and some even less than that, each and every conversation will be valuable. The mentors you choose have been down the road you're about to go down, and can provide valuable business insights, advice, moral support, and the encouragement you might need in order to succeed as an entrepreneur working in a virtual office environment.
What Does a Mentor Do?
With classes, work, extra-curricular activities, and maintaining a personal life, the life of a young entrepreneur is tough. Fortunately, many of the problems you'll face in everyday life are exactly the types of problems a mentor can help you deal with – from providing advice about time management and the use of virtual offices to helping you achieve your personal and professional goals, a mentor has been there and done that. A good mentor will help you through challenges all entrepreneurs face, including financing options, growing pains, partnership issues, and ethical questions.
How to Find the Right Mentor
Although a few entrepreneurs are fortunate enough to have a mentor in their own family, it's still possible to find one or two on your own. First, determine your needs and keep in mind that your mentoring needs will shift as you build your business. If you're having trouble with numbers, consider a mentor with a background in finance. If you're considering using a virtual office, find a mentor who already rents one. Build a wish list for your mentor, laying out which skills and support you'll need to get to the next step. Remain flexible, listen more than you talk, and never, ever forget to thank your mentors frequently for all they provide to you and your company.
What's In It for Them?
In some cases, mentors will see a financial benefit from the relationship: if they see you and your company as having great potential, they may want to have an opportunity to participate in deals and investments down the line. For others, mentoring is more of an intrinsic reward. Perhaps you remind them of themselves when they were just getting started, or maybe their own mentor played an important role in their own success and they'd like to return the favor. Regardless of their reasons, a mentorship should be a mutually beneficial relationship.
Are Two Mentors Better Than One?
In almost every case, two mentors are preferred over one. If you plan on finding more than one mentor, find one from within your own industry and find one with experience in a different industry. As time progresses, you might find that the best business advice you'll receive is from people outside your own industry. They could bring a fresh perspective and ask questions someone from your industry might not. At the same time, finding a mentor within your industry is also beneficial – they'll know what you're talking about without requiring a lot of explanation and know the ins and outs of your specific industry.