To Build a Great Company, Find Great Mentors
“A common theme throughout my career has been great mentors. When I launched Selerity it was my first start-up and I was relatively young at 26 years old, so having the support of a network of seasoned executives and entrepreneurs was instrumental in growing the business. I can’t stress enough the importance of strong mentors when embarking on the journey of building a company” – Ryan Terpstra
Mentors & Support Stations
Building and managing a business is exciting but also a huge challenge It requires many skills, and also knowledge on numerous subjects that you most probably never before encountered in depth.
No one knows everything, and life is too short to get a handle on all the vital processes and sequences of running a business.
You need support stations and there are two solutions to this dilemma, if you are a sole business owner not in a partnership:
- Find an accountability partner.
- Get a mentor.
An accountability partner
An accountability partner is someone with suitable skills and experience you can call with updates and questions about once a week, after you agree on a framework for the relationship.
To find an accountability partner, start by creating a list of potential people who might fit the bill.
A good accountability partner can bring numerous of the benefits of having a business partner, without the risk and expense.
Especially during the early months after the opening your business, so many decisions and challenges come at you from many angles, that you quickly discover it is impossible to make all decisions alone.
A mentor could be a priceless resource.
Although you are undoubtedly responsible for all your decisions, consulting with someone who has experience and can guide you is a wonderful gift.
Where will you find a mentor?
- Trade associations.
- Government-sponsored organizations.
- The network of people you know through your professional or personal life, possibly someone who has owned and run a business and is willing to share successes, challenges, and insights with you.
- Retirees might be a wonderful resource.
How do you collaborate with a mentor?
If you have found a mentoring organization, ensure that there is a formal structure.
If you decide to work with an individual, establish a mutually beneficial structured relationship.
Be respectful of your mentors’ time. Don’t waste your time or that of your mentor.
Always be prepared, consistent, and organized.
Plan each mentoring session beforehand.
- It can be a simple one-on-one consultation or a monthly lunch or breakfast meeting.
- These are opportunities to discuss where you are in relation to your business goals, and how best to confront obstacles.
- You can receive advice regarding business processes or regulatory requirements that are causing you difficulties.
Although informal one-on-one sessions are good, also ensure that more structured sessions address aspects of setting up, managing, running, and growing your business.
Always take notes, create action items for yourself, and review progress against these in the next session.
Utilize your mentor’s insights and apply as relevant.
Especially, show that you understand the value the mentor brings, and communicate the fact that you appreciate the investment of your time and effort. It should be a mutually beneficial and satisfying relationship.
Especially when you start your first business, a mentor or accountability partner can be a great help, and prevent you from making costly mistakes.