If it’s true that it takes a village to raise a child, then it’s just as certain that it takes a group of driven, like-minded business professionals in order for a start-up to succeed…
Indeed, starting your own business can be an overwhelming process. Even if you have past experience in the industry you’re entering, launching new startup still requires commitment, effort, energy, knowledge and more. If you have weaknesses in any area, the best way to compensate is with a mentor who can provide wisdom and input to help guide you over the bumps in the road you’ll most certainly encounter.
However, to really increase your likelihood of success, you don’t just need one type of business mentor – you need all of the following three types!
Mentor #1 – The Business Role Model
The first business mentor you’ll want to seek out is someone who’s already achieved the type of success you’d like to experience. This “Business Role Model” should be someone you can model your own actions off of and who can provide specific guidance based on the challenges you’ll face growing your business.
For example, if you want to launch a mobile app startup company, find someone who’s gone through the same process successfully. That way, when you run into specific questions or issues, you’ll be able to tap into the wisdom of someone who’s already overcome these hurdles.
Now, the type of relationship you’ll have with this person may vary. If you’re very lucky, the role model mentors you reach out to will welcome your questions and provide an unlimited amount of feedback on the issues you encounter.
However, it’s just as likely that these professionals will be too busy with their own projects to provide any significant amount of hand-holding to you as you grow your own company. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look to them as role models – just that you might need to be a little more creative about how you approach the situation.
Based on what your “Business Role Model” has published, what insights can you gleam from his life story? Has he published any books, web articles or blog posts about the approach he took to his business? Can you find interviews on other websites detailing your chosen role model’s business history? You might be surprised how much “mentor-type” advice you can find by simply Googling the role models you’d like to follow.
Mentor #2 – The Elder Guide
While you might look to your “Business Role Model” to provide specific advice on how to overcome the challenges you’ll face in your chosen industry, an “Elder Guide” is someone with extensive business experience who can help you see the bigger picture of your business and prevent you from getting bogged down by the minutiae of running a business.
For this reason, an “Elder Guide” doesn’t need to have specific experience within your chosen business field. Instead, what you’re looking for is someone who can take a look at your business model in order to identify systemic inefficiencies, point out potential new markets and challenge the assumptions you’ve made about your business’s overall direction.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have someone like this in your life, the easiest way to find an “Elder Guide” is by reaching out to your area’s SCORE program. SCORE connects growing entrepreneurs with established, successful business people in order to provide free advice and guidance. Check out the organization’s website to find the chapter nearest you, or call (800) 634-0245 to be connected to a mentor in your area.
Mentor #3 – The Accountability Partner
Unlike the “Business Role Model” and “Elder Guide,” the final type of business mentor you’ll want to seek out isn’t someone you’ll be asking questions of – rather, this mentor will be the one asking questions of you!
This type of mentor is known as an “Accountability Partner,” and represents someone whose sole purpose is making sure you stay on track with the business goals you set for yourself.
The beauty of the “Accountability Partner” is that it can be just about anyone in your life. This type of mentor doesn’t need to understand your business or be able to ask the pointed, driven questions that help you be sure your business plan is on track. Instead, an “Accountability Partner” is simply someone you can check in with regularly who will hold you to the actions you’ve agreed to take.
For best results, choose an “Accountability Partner” (or a group of people serving this purpose) with whom you can check in at least once every week or two. Using this mentor or mastermind group in order to set consequences for failing to meet your stated goals will ensure that your startup grows and develops according to your expectations.
Have you sought out mentors for your growing business? If so, share your recommendations for finding and growing these relationships in the comments section below!