Who do you turn to when you need advice or feedback about a business issue or challenge? If you’re smart, you have formed an informal board of advisors you meet with regularly or whenever you need to make a major decision. But what about the smaller hurdles? Do you have someone you can turn to when you’re contemplating your next stepsor trying to deal with employee issues? No? Maybe you need a mentor—someone to guide you on your path to growth.
Famous fictional mentor-mentee relationships abound, (think Dumbledore and Harry Potter or, long before them in a galaxy far, far away, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker.) But in your real world of business, how do you know you need a mentor?
Here are some signs you might need a little guidance:
1. You Lack Motivation
You may have a ton of great ideas, but you have a hard time transforming them into reality. A mentor can help you formulate a clear path from ideas to real-life business.
2. You Lack Confidence
Sometimes you need an extra push or confidence boost to get you to the next step. A good mentor inspires you and helps you overcome any nagging insecurities.
3. You Lack the Know-How
In order to become a successful entrepreneur you need a plan and a process. What are the “proper” steps and procedures that will get you from point A to point B? A mentor knows, since he or she has experienced it.
4. You Lack a Voice of Reason
Sometimes you need someone to just say no. Are you surrounded by people who, though meaning well, just tell you what you want to hear? You need a mentor who will be honest and give you tough love when you need it.
5. You Lack the Vision
You just can’t see the big picture. Running a business can get you so bogged down in the nitty-gritty details, you can’t see the forest for the trees. A mentor can help you clear the fog so you can focus on the big picture of your business goals.
So how do you find your own Obi-Wan or Dumbledore? Start by attending networking events and seminars. The more people you meet, the more you’ll be exposed to potential mentors in your own industry. Keep your eyes and ears open for those who seem to have the knowledge and patience you’re looking for. Try keeping in touch after the event and see who responds. Send a friendly follow-up email and even suggest getting together for coffee, lunch or dinner in a few weeks.
Consider that finding a mentor is similar to looking for someone to date. When you click with someone, you’ll know it. Then you can propose a mentor-mentee relationship.
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