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Choose Your Mentors Wisely: 3 Traits to Look for in a Great Mentor

Choose Your Mentors Wisely: 3 Traits to Look for in a Great Mentor

As an entrepreneur, you will consistently encounter new obstacles, both large and small. How you deal with them will either derail you from your path or push you forward. Mentors are invaluable assets to help you navigate those trials. They are the ones who have already earned their championship rings and can coach you to achieve your true potential. In fact, 70 percent of small businesses that receive mentoring survive more than five years. That is double the survival rate of non-mentored businesses.

The lessons my own mentors taught me and the wisdom they imparted are large parts of why I have been able to accomplish what I have so far.

Many people ask what makes a good mentor. The answer to that is going to change slightly from person to person and business to business. However, I feel there are three different themes of mentorship that apply universally. I would recommend seeking out at least one of these traits when looking for a good mentor:

A visionary mindset

One of my first mentors was the person who gave me my introduction into the fashion retail industry. He taught me the ins and outs of that world, and being associated with him gave me credibility working in that space.

Beyond that, one significant lesson he taught me was to always look to the future and get ahead of where technology is going. Although he was a fashion executive, he was also a CTO with a keen eye on how the internet was set to disrupt the world. Hard to believe now, but there was a time when many thought the internet was nothing more than a passing fad.

Find a mentor who can help you see past what’s directly in front of you and look to the larger picture of the evolving world — someone who always seems a few steps ahead of the game.

A distinct management philosophy

Another mentor of mine, a former Harvard business school professor who went on to build a multibillion-dollar publically traded company, showed me the absolute importance of finding the right management strategy for your business. Headquartered in Hong Kong, my mentor developed a breakthrough management system and showed me how a company could be run with a Western management style and an Eastern value system. This “three-year planning” process requires a complete overhaul of the business every three years — as if you are starting the company from scratch — along with one massive stretch goal that seems impossible to meet. I incorporate these management techniques along with many others I learned from him in how I run LegalZoom today.

Find a mentor that is a master in management — someone who can help you develop the management strategies and hone the specific types of management skills that will work for the business you are trying to build.

A perspective to push you

Over the years, one of my mentors has given me life lessons ranging from marriage advice to exit strategies. He was my first VC, and in many ways is like an older brother. Many years ago we had an investment that was doing very well; after three years it was profitable and had considerable revenue. He wanted to move on. He told me that it was a good investment, but it was like hitting a single. I could spend the next three years hitting singles with this, or within that timeframe, I could cut my investment and start a whole new company that would hit one out of the park. I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of exiting a profitable business at first, but he showed me how to reach farther than I thought I could. He taught me that the enemy of incredible is good.

Find a mentor who never lets you settle — someone who will show you different perspectives that challenge what you think you know and who pushes you past your comfort zone.

The quality of a mentor is important. Research by Endeavor Insightshowed that 33 percent of companies where a founder is mentored by a successful entrepreneur went on to become a top-performing company. Having a good mentor can be helpful. Having a great mentor can change your life.

 

Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by John Suh

7 Reasons You Need a Mentor for Entrepreneurial Success

7 Reasons You Need a Mentor for Entrepreneurial Success

Mentors. They’ve been there, done that and have seen it all. Yet, a woeful number of entrepreneurs start their careers without one. In an age where instant gratification is glorified, it’s unsurprising that many entrepreneurs and young founders do not seek out a mentor as hard as they try to find a co-founder.

While arguments abound on why entrepreneurs do not need mentors but should only follow their own instincts and gut feelings, most successful tech titans have founders who had mentors. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Steve Jobs. Jobs was mentored by Mike Markkula — an early investor and executive at Apple. And Eric Schmidt mentored Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google.

Like most startup founders, I didn’t start with a mentor. I got into the industry and had to look up to someone who is well known in the field. This is not as effective as working hard to get a mentor to guide you while you run your business — but it’s better than nothing. Having been in business for more than seven years, I’ve realized the importance of having a business mentor.

Here are seven reasons having a mentor is important.

1. Gain experience not shared in books.

Experience is a very expensive asset — yet it’s crucial to business success. There’s only so much about a person’s experience you can gain from books. It’s an unstated truth that most authors do not feel comfortable revealing everything about themselves in books. Some personal experiences may be too intimate to be shared, yet how they dealt with it can help an inexperienced entrepreneur’s career.

Mentorship is one guaranteed way to gain experience from others.

2. You’re more likely to succeed with a mentor.

Research and surveys prove that having a mentor is important to success. In a 2013 executive coaching survey, 80 percent of CEOs said they received some form of mentorship. In another research by Sage, 93 percent of startups admit that mentorship is instrumental to success.

Your chances of success in life and in business can be amplified by having the right mentor. The valuable connections, timely advice, occasional checks — together with the spiritual and moral guidance you will gain from having a mentor — will literarily leapfrog you to success.

3. Network opportunities.

Aside the fact that investors trust startups who are recommended by their friends, a successful mentor has an unlimited network of people who can benefit your career. Since they are already invested in your success, it only makes sense for them to let you tap into their network of people when the need arises.

This is an opportunity you cannot tap into if you do not have a mentor.

4. A mentor gives you reassurance.

It has been proven by research that a quality mentorship has a powerful positive effect on young entrepreneurs. Having someone who practically guides you and shares your worries with you — often placating your fears with their years of experience — keeps you reassured that you’ll be successful.

Self-confidence is very important to success as entrepreneurs. A 2014 Telegraph report revealed that having a high self-confidence contributes significantly to career success — more so than talent and competence. Mentors have the capacity to help young founders tap into their self-confidence and see every challenge as an opportunity.

5. A mentor will help you stay in business longer.

When you imagine the number of businesses that fail, you’d wish a lot of business owners had mentors. According to SBA, 30 percent of new businesses may not survive past the first 24 months, and 50 percent of those may not make it past five years. However, 70 percent of mentored businesses survive longer than 5 years.

6. A mentor will help you develop stronger EQ.

Does maturity bring about a higher EQ in entrepreneurs? Emotional intelligence is crucial to entrepreneurial success. When a young entrepreneur has a more mature and successful mentor who advises them, they are likely to have greater control over their emotions.

We all know that a quick way to make a business fail is to mix it with emotions or make crucial decisions based on emotional feelings. Situations like this can be curbed as mentors will help show you how to react in given instances.

A story on Business Insider reveals how Schmidt worked with then inexperienced Page to manage the affairs of running a fledgling startup. An inexperienced CEO often makes decisions based on emotions, but one with a mentor like Schmidt is able to overcome critical hurdles by making smart decisive judgments.

7. Encouragement.

Enduring the consequences of failure on your own can set you back and impact your productivity. In hard times, having a mentor will help you keep your head high. Young entrepreneurs often deal with depression when they are unable to meet their goals and expectations. The impact of depression on entrepreneurs is often underreported. But entrepreneurs without mentors bear the brunt the most.

A mentor who has experienced the highs and lows of running a business is in the perfect position to give positive and soothing words of advice to you when things refuse to go your way. And not only do they have the right words to share, they would also have ideas to help you navigate your way to success.

 

 

Originally posted on entrepreneur.com by Sheila Eugenio

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