People that have achieved greatness have a private group of mentors. A good advice, a pep talk or a simple conversation can help entrepreneurs with little experience. In the beginning startups have to face a lot of difficulties and problems which can temper their motivation, they have to focus on the plus side of their adventure and look forward. On the other hand, there are the more experienced people who own businesses or work for inspiring companies who have enough interesting baggage which they want to share and motivate the young ones.
Every startup knows a lot about the core of their products because they love it and they are convinced of its power but knowledge about conducting business could be something else. That’s where mentors come in. With the experience and knowledge about all different sort of subjects they can help you tackle problems.
Mentors could mean a lot for your startup but there could be problems if you start with classic mistakes like in Giff Constable article. Giff is a mentor himself, and serial mentor at Lean Startup Machine. He talks about his thoughts in the article ’10 habits of Effective Startup Mentors’. A mentor should be a mentor, not a CEO says Giff and he/she should let the team come to its own conclusions. Mentors should try not to interrupt everywhere and this can be avoided if the startups ask well-formulated question.
Instead of doing that a mentor could help by defining the idea behind the product or service and for example prioritizing the startup’s biggest risks. You could also use the mentor’s network to find potential customers according to Giff. In Paul Sullivan’s NY Times article on pitfalls in mentoring, Paul defines a good mentor / mentor programs and what are the problems with mentors in general.
You should always know what you want to know from your mentors. They’re a great source to you. If one mentor has not all the answers, don’t hesitate to take a extra mentor. Mentors are there for you and you should get along well.
In my opinion mentors are just as important as older more experienced colleagues that guide you through your first period at your new job. When you start a business yourself you start on your own or with partner(s) and you’ll never have the same save environment as with an position at for instance, a corporate firm. But that’s probably why you start the company in the first place. That doesn’t mean you don’t have questions. Instead of more experienced colleagues you can now approach mentors for you questions and advice.
What do you think that defines a good mentor? Is it possible to define the perfect mentor or does it depends on the needs of the startup?
Read the full articles here:
Giff Constable – 10 Habits of Effective Mentors
Paul Sullivan – Helping Small-Business Owners Find the Perfect Mentor