A business mentor is far more than someone you met at a party who gave you a few pointers on investing in real estate. A business mentor unfortunately, is also rarely the next person up the ladder from you in a multi-level marketing scheme. A business mentor is the experienced businessperson who is willing to share their business acumen with a student. Even so, a master and apprentice relationship is not the best description of the interaction between the business mentor and new business owner.
A business mentor must be an experienced business person. It is preferable but not essential to be experienced in the same general type of business as the new entrepreneur is contemplating. A business mentor must also be someone who is skilled at teaching you not only what they know, but what you need to know to succeed.
A mentor is more than just an advisor. Most people will respond favorably if you offer to take them to lunch and pick their brains about specific questions or problems. An advisor, as the name implies will give you specific advice in answer to specific questions, but will rarely take the opportunity to try to understand the big picture, or why you might be asking a question about a specific subject.
A mentor on the other hand, is genuinely anxious to see you succeed, not just in the one immediate problem, but for your business to succeed. The business mentor helps, not to gain an income, or to provide an ego boost, or even to add a line on their resume about their volunteer work. They are working with you because they are interested in helping people.
It may take a little effort to locate just the right business mentor for you. It must be a person who has already experienced the same type of problems you are likely to encounter and more importantly has solved the problems. Most people think a business mentor has to be old, grey-haired and retired. This is not necessarily true. A young person may be far more experienced in the business world than a retiree who is starting his or her own business after working for someone else for 40 years.
By the same token, a mentor should never let enthusiasm for trying something new override the understanding that someone ready to retire and open a business with their life savings should not be involved in risky ventures.
So, how do you find a good business mentor? Certainly not by looking in the yellow pages or advertising in the newspaper. Your best bet for finding someone willing to mentor you is to network. Join local business clubs, Toastmasters or Chamber of Commerce. Attend business meetings, seminars, luncheons and classes. Introduce yourself to people and involve them in conversation. Make a sincere effort to become involved in your community and with those in your business. The mentoring relationship tends to evolve naturally, so donít try to hurry it. Itís better to be a friend first and develop the trust on both sides and before you know it, youíll realize this person is one who is mentoring you.
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