Great business mentors can have a massive effect on early-stage startups. Their connections can open doors that could otherwise be closed and their experiences can save entrepreneurs from experiencing the same startup mistakes they’ve already made.
But locating the best mentor for your business isn’t as simple as deciding on a name from a hat. You need to be able to recognize why is a great mentor, discover how to approach one and how to maximize the partnership. At TechStars, the mentorship-driven seed stage investment fund I co-founded in 2006, we’ve seen all sorts of mentor relationships, successful rather than.
Listed below are three steps for locating the most experienced mentor to greatly help bring your startup idea to another level:
1. Recognize why is an excellent mentor. At TechStars, we’ve discovered that the very best mentors are those that ask a whole lot of tough questions and challenge you to exceed your targets. In doing this, they should share their own experiences and assist you to uncover new opportunities.
However the best mentors shouldn’t let you know exactly what to accomplish. They understand their role as an advisor and that it is your company to perform, not theirs. Those that tell entrepreneurs how to proceed, and be upset when their instructions aren’t followed, often cause more damage than good.
2. Look for a good fit. A common mistake we’ve seen is certainly going straight at the busiest, most well-known, most visible mentors. While this might occasionally work, it’s more productive to investigate your own close network and appearance locally for mentors whom you respect with relevant experience.
Consider approaching the founders and key executives of companies in your space who you admire. Those individuals are usually much more likely to invest amount of time in your business than people that have crushing demand from strangers.
To create that first connection, you may try sending a brief email explaining what your startup does and just why you are trying. Avoid "form" emails and always make it relevant and possible for the prospective mentor to greatly help. Take a short while to read the individuals blog or Twitter account and find out about her or his background in order to personalize your note.
A lot of the cold emails I receive from entrepreneurs start by requesting a gathering over coffee. While this may seem like an excellent first request, it is not always. For instance, I’m an introvert who doesn’t drink coffee. Even easily did, I’d need to leave my office to meet up with the person & most busy mentors won’t initially have time to meet up.
Five Steps for Finding a perfect Mentor
Build up compared to that first meeting by establishing a rhythm of interesting and thought-provoking email communication. Demonstrate you are making regular progress on your own product and close the feedback loop therefore the mentor knows you’re listening, analyzing and reacting. When you do eventually ask to speak face-to-face, request a 15-minute meeting at their office.
Approaching a smaller number of mentors who’ve an actual link with your business or your market and making sure they recognize that connection in early stages usually leads to raised long-term engagement between your mentor and the mentee.
3. Maximize the mentor relationship. Once you have established a connection, and there is interest from both sides, it is critical to build a relationship as time passes. One way to get this done is to check on in regularly by email. Mentors should want to see your progress and take pride in realizing that their input has been helpful. Send a monthly email that reminds them of your past conversations and updates them on your own progress.
Ask one new question in these emails to guarantee the conversation continues. It is critical to keep these check-in emails short also to the point rather than ask for an excessive amount of at a time. For instance, requesting a two-hour telephone call once a week is most likely likely to be an unrealistic demand. Getting together at the mentor’s office for thirty minutes once a quarter is definitely an easier request to be fulfilled once you have established a genuine relationship.
HOW DO I Look for a Mentor? (Video)
While mentors shouldn’t require financial compensation, if they’re consistently spending a great deal of time helping you progress, you may consider granting them handful of equity in your company to provide a long-term incentive.
Great founders intuitively understand the importance and role of mentors. They recognize that startups are difficult, but recognize that an excellent team paired with the current presence of experienced and engaged mentors could make a massive difference — and is usually a strong indicator of future success.