Meet Your Mentor!

When you decide to go into business for yourself, chances are you may not have experienced certain situations as opposed to someone who has “been there…done that…” Nonetheless, it makes your journey to starting your own business that much easier. When I first started out, my focus was real estate. I had a great mentor who was literally there with me through EVERY step of the way. He advised me to great lawyers, books, different strategies, as well as marketing. I literally don’t know where I’d be without him. I really couldn’t imagine not having a mentor, or someone who knows the ropes.
Regardless of what you want to do, a mentor is KEY; it’s very crucial, because it saves you time and energy so you don;t make a lot of the same mistakes as your mentor did.
When chosing a mentor, be sure it’s someone you can trust!
LOOK FAR AND WIDE
When looking for a mentor, first go to someone you know and trust, such as a professor, local entrepreneur, industry expert or former employer. Then expand your network. Mine for contacts on LinkedIn, through alumni associations, at trade association meetings and small-business development centers and through the Entrepreneur Mentor Society. These are all great ways to connect to potential mentors.
LISTEN UP
An hour with a good mentor can be more valuable–and much less expensive–than an entire business course. Mentors have real-world experience, understand your needs and want to help you avoid the pitfalls they’ve already encountered. They also have access to people and resources you don’t have.
MAXIMIZE THE RELATIONSHIP
To make the most of the mentor experience, clearly outline your expectations and schedule regular meetings with your mentor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And be open-minded, because a good mentor will be critical.
PROTECT YOUR INTERESTS
If you don’t feel comfortable with your mentor, find a new one. Otherwise, you’ll be hesitant to share information. Regardless of your comfort level, make sure to protect any trade secrets before discussing plans with your mentor.
GIVE BACK
When you feel you’ve achieved a level of experience that will allow you to mentor someone else, connect with trade groups, small-business development centers and universities. These groups may not have mentorship programs, but they will know entrepreneurs looking for mentors. The experience will help you, too.
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