When you’re starting a business — or even just thinking about it — the advice you’ll get again and again is to find a mentor.
In fact, that’s the second element listed in our Dot Com Mantra for success:
- Create a plan, something that you’ll enjoy doing;
- Find a mentor, someone who’s successful and interests you; and
- Automate as much of your daily business tasks as possible.
It’s vital, of course, to find the right mentor.
The mentor-mentee relationship is a lot like dating. You must share mutual interests, really want to spend time together and be equally committed. It takes time to identify the perfect fit, and to be honest, sometimes there’s not a match. There are also fundamental qualities in your mentor that will determine whether you’ll get the most from the relationship.
In my e-commerce portfolio, I’ve sourced several excellent mentors who have saved me countless hours and cash, which resulted in my gaining more free time and life-changing revenues.
It’s true: no one is an island. The one-on-one of mentorship is beyond essential for the Dot Com lifestyle.
Here are the three things that I’ve seen really ensure success:
The most important thing to find in a mentor is chemistry. There has to be a fit between the two of you if the relationship is going to work.
What does this mean, exactly? First, there should be at least one major interest that the two of you share. What’s more, though, it’s important that your mentor shares some of the same ideas and views that you do on that topic.
If, for example, your business mentor is a sales expert and a firm believer that the customer is always right, but you believe that focusing on customer support is a waste of time, it’s unlikely the two of you will have a lasting relationship. Even if you don’t know what your beliefs are on a particular topic right away, getting to know your mentor’s views on issues you believe are important will be key to finding the right one.
The best mentors are willing to spend time with you. Because successful people are usually good at what they do, their time is in constant demand. But if a mentor is willing to carve out even a small slice of his or her day to chat with you, that can make all the difference.
It shows their commitment and helps you gain value from the relationship. It allows you to truly learn and ask questions. And it provides a sense of support, should issues arise down the road.
Your mentor has been there and done that. He or she understands your frustration at the little things that require additional expertise and your elation when a plan comes together after they provide it. They’re motivated to smooth your path to success. And that’s exactly what you want.
Yes, this sounds smarmy, but it’s true: Honesty and integrity are important in a business mentor.
Maybe it seems obvious, but you don’t want a mentor who’s going to tell you what you want to hear just to make you feel good. If you’re going to get any real learning out of a mentorship, you must have someone who will be honest with you and let you know when you’re moving in the wrong direction. Constant flattery and sugar coating will not help you learn.
This may mean you need to build thicker skin to take criticism, but if it’s done correctly, the result will not only be constructive, but eye-opening.
Don’t think you can just go out and ask someone to be your mentor; that’s like proposing on the first date without buying dinner first. These relationships often evolve spontaneously over time, when it becomes obvious that someone has each of these qualities and is a fit to help guide you through your business.
In fact, it hardly ever comes down to looking for a mentor at all. Mentors are usually people you respect and have worked with in the past. They’ve given you advice and somehow manage to be a person you often seek out when you’re in a bind.
Nothing needs to be said about the relationship, because it’s already there.
This article was originally published at The Muse