Like many other successful people in business and in life, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for my mentors.
As I’ve written before, I didn’t always recognize the value of having (and being) a mentor like I do today. As a young entrepreneur, it’s easy to fall into the whole “I’m on-top-of-the-world and know everything there is to know” trap that often comes with getting your first few tastes of success. It’s even easier to feel too afraid or proud to ask for help.
Thankfully, I quickly got to the point in my early days as a new entrepreneur where I felt stuck. I knew that in order to take my business to the next level, I needed to talk to other people.
So I swallowed my pride, reached out to a few people, and formed a number of ongoing relationships that, even after 10 years of success and experience, still exist to this day. It was one of the best business and personal decisions I’ve ever made.
If you’re in a business rut or you’re having trouble taking your business to the next level, you need to reach out and connect with someone who can help. Chances are, it’ll not only impact your business in ways you never thought possible, but it will also make you a better person.
Research about Mentoring
I think a lot of people avoid establishing mentoring relationships because of 3 main reasons:
- They don’t know where to start.
- They’re too proud.
- They believe it’s a waste of time.
A lot of people fail to recognize the true value of having someone to talk to or confide in, and it’s a real shame, because mentoring matters. It makes a difference and it can impact your business in very tangible ways.
MicroMentor.org is a a free, easy-to-use service that connects entrepreneurs with volunteer mentors so they can solve problems and build businesses together. In 2012, they surveyed users of their service and found that, “those who received mentoring increased their revenue by an average of $47,000, or 106%,” and, “those who did not receive mentoring only increased their revenue by an average of $6,600, or 14%.”
As if those numbers aren’t convincing enough, MicroMentor also found that 49% of pre-launch businesses that received mentoring actually ended up started their businesses, and 82% survived for 1-2 years. According to MicroMentor, that’s 13% higher than the average new business survival rate in the U.S.
Mentoring doesn’t just benefit entrepreneurs and business owners though. It’s also beneficial for business professionals looking to advance their careers.
In another article on mentoring, author Lisa Quast writes about the findings of a multi-year study on the effects of mentoring in the workplace. The study followed the career progress of approximately 1,000 employees over a 5-year period and found that, “employees who received mentoring were promoted FIVE times more often than people who didn’t have mentors,” and “Both mentors and mentees were approximately 20% more likely to get a raise than people who did not participate in the mentoring program.”
The numbers don’t lie! Mentoring matters and can significantly impact your ability to succeed and thrive—whether you’re an entrepreneur or a business person working for someone else.
Famous Mentor Relationships
Mentoring isn’t a new concept and it’s not reserved only for startup entrepreneurs or the average white-collar business professional—mentoring relationships have existed all throughout history and continue to be established by many of the today’s most successful business people. Here are some examples:
- Alexander The Great was mentored by Aristotle
- Plato was mentored by Socrates
- Thomas Jefferson was mentored by George Wythe
- Warren Buffet was mentored by Benjamin Graham
- Marc Benioff was mentored by Steve Jobs
- Marissa Myers is mentored by Larry Page and others
You can even find fictional examples of mentoring in TV and film. Here are more examples:
- Luke Skywalker gets mentored by Obi-Wan Kenobi
- Captain Kirk gets mentored by Captain Pike
- Bruce Wayne gets mentored by Ra’s Al Ghul & Alfred
If some of the world’s best minds, most successful people, and favorite fictional characters take the time to mentor or get mentored, it’s probably a safe and smart investment of your own time.
How To Find a Mentor
So how do you get started?Well, if you’ve finally agreed to swallow your pride and reach out to someone for help, you’re already heading in the right direction. Here are the next steps you should take:
Step 1: Make a list of people you admire who you personally already know. These are your friends, family members, business associates, or anyone else you’ve interacted with before.
Step 2: Make a list of people you admire you who don’t personally know yet. These are your heroes, the people you look up to in your industry or city, the people you read about, or anyone else who you would love to gain insight from.
Step 3: Write down your goals, expectations, and what you can offer in return. It’s important to know ahead of time what you want, what you need help with, what you you’re hoping to get from your mentor, and what you can offer them in return for their time (ex. money, your time, free services).
Step 4: Reach out to people on both lists, and give them a proposal. Send a friendly email or text, or pick up the phone. This step might seem a bit intimidating, but have no fear! Most people love helping others and sharing their insight and experiences.
Step 5: Schedule your first meetings. Meet somewhere away from your office and theirs if possible. It’s important to make your first conversation as honest, authentic, and comfortable as possible.
Step 6: Meet with those who are interested. Meet with your prospective mentors. Have an honest discussion about your goals, expectations, needs, etc.
Step 7: Continue nourishing the relationships you’ve established. Develop a consistent meeting schedule with your mentors. If you’re connecting with one or two more than you are with others, continue investing in those relationships and scale back the others.
How To Become a Mentor
Once you begin meeting with your mentor, it won’t take long before you realize you have your own experiences and insight that can be shared with someone looking for a mentor. That’s what happened to me. After years of being mentored by others, I’m proud to say that I now mentor a number of up-and-coming entrepreneurs and marketers who have asked me for help. I do it because I know it matters, and because believe it or not, being a mentor helps me succeed almost as much as being mentored by others. That’s the beauty of mentoring relationships: both parties learn from the experience and both grow as human beings.
Here are my tips for becoming a mentor:
Tip 1: Make sure people know you are available. Put a page up on your blog or website, tell your business contacts, call friends, do whatever you need to do to tell people you’re available and interested in mentoring others.
Tip 2: Use your blog to teach others. Use your blog as an opportunity to teach others. People will notice, and they will be more likely to reach out to you for 1-on-1 help.
Tip 3: Be proactive with people. If you think someone could use your help, reach out to them personally! Don’t wait for them to contact you. Remember: they might be too afraid or too proud.
Tip 4: Don’t be a jerk. No one likes advice from arrogant people who come across like they know all the answers and they did everything right. Be real with people, be honest, and don’t let people think you’re too busy or important to help others. If you can’t help someone or you don’t think it would be a good fit, thank them for asking and send them to someone else who can help.
This article was written by Sujan Patel from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.