Choosing a mentor to help guide you (not just your business, but you) as you take on a new venture is a deeply personal decision. After all, mentorships only work when you find someone with a compatible communication style to your own and whose opinions you respect and value. Often, we tend to seek those who have found success and simply ask how they did it, but understanding how to recognize the right mentor your business specifically means looking beyond big names and big profits.
They Have Shared Business Values
Shared values between a mentor and an apprentice are undeniably the most important thing to look for in such a crucial relationship. If you and your mentor don’t see eye to eye on how to treat customers, the role of a business in the community, or your company’s online responsibilities, you may want to reconsider. These issues can put cracks in the mentorship’s foundation and lead to metaphorical fallout that shakes your business as well.
They Share Unique Perspectives on Success (and Failure)
Whether this is your first business ever or you’re simply breaking into a new industry and need guidance, the most valuable tool a mentor can offer is their unique perspective toward running a business. Years of experience have taught them lessons that they can pass on to you as you follow in their footsteps.
Alongside anecdotes that show you the correct choices to make and enlighten you to opportunities they see in your current project, your mentor can offer you valuable guidelines for failure. Great leaders accept that failure happens and find ways to grow from it, and that skill is incredibly difficult to learn without an example. Whether your mentor can explain pitfalls or teach you how to recover from mistakes, their input will be invaluable.
The Challenges They Give You Make Sense
Seeking out a mentor who approaches life, business, and even friendships from an entirely different angle as your own is a choice with clear, immediate value. It’s easy to get stuck in our own way of thinking, and engaging our opposites inspires new modes of thought. However, as much of an asset as these challenges can be, consistently butting heads breeds resentment and wastes both the mentor and the apprentice’s time.
When conflicts occur, take a step back to consider if there’s a reason your mentor is challenging you now. So long as your mentor pushing your boundaries is moving you toward growth, the mentorship is moving in the right direction.
When you do recognize the right mentor for your business, don’t be shy about explaining why you feel they would bring value to your career. Invite them to a casual lunch, or organize a more formal meeting—whatever you think fits their personality and your intended interaction. Just be sure to recognize their impact on you in the months and years to come, and remember to thank them for their guidance down the line.