How to Make the Most Out of Having a Mentor
Having a mentor can be very helpful for an entrepreneur. It allows you to have someone who has “been there, done that” to help you learn the ropes of running your own business. I have found that having a mentor has greatly improved my ability to succeed as an entrepreneur. Part of this is having the right attitude about having a mentor.
Find the right mentor
Having a mentor can become a long term relationship. You will probably be in contact with them for a long time as your business grows. Because of this, it is important that you find the right mentor. Below are some aspects you should take into consideration when choosing a mentor:
- What is their experience? Is it related?
- Do they genuinely want to help you?
- Do you feel comfortable enough to discuss your business with them?
- Will they give you tough-love when you need it?
While you are working with your mentor, they will tell you a lot of information. This could come as direct advice or stories. Whichever medium, you should actually listen to them. Jot down notes, or simply pay close attention. Either way, be sure you are listening more than you are talking.
Be willing to take criticism and suggestions
Hearing that you are doing something wrong is never easy. However, it is an important thing to be able to deal with. When working with a mentor, you need to be able to take criticism and implement suggestions. If you set up walls against this, you’ll never improve. The whole point of a mentor is to learn, so you need to actually be open to learning.
Use your heroes & role models
We’ve been mostly talking about having a mentor that you know personally and can talk openly with. Many of us have other successful people that we look up to, but don’t know in person. These types of people can be another source of learning and non-traditional mentorship.
Many successful people will write books, conduct interviews, or have other ways of sharing their information. You can look at these sources and see how your role models got where they are. This is a simple way to supplement your knowledge through a non-traditional source.
Pay it forward
While I was student teaching, my cooperating teacher was my mentor. She was the one who watched me teach and gave me ideas and suggestions on how to improve.
One day while we were on a conference trip, we were talking about her student teaching experience. During the course of our conversation, she explained her view of being a cooperating teacher. She had one while she was a student teacher. She learned so much through her mentorship, that she wanted to give back in the future. By agreeing to be my mentor, she was able to pay it forward. She told me that in the future, I would be able to do the same.
While the student teacher-cooperating teacher mentor relationship is a very concrete example, you can do the same. You’ll be able to learn a lot through your mentor. But in the future, you’ll also be able to give back. When you’re successful, you’ll be able to pay it forward and help another beginning entrepreneur.
Having these mindsets about having a mentor will allow you to get more out of the relationship. Share any other tips you have in the comments below!