Whether you’re just starting your entrepreneurial journey or on your third startup, finding a mentor is a crucial element to lead you on the path to success. Navigating a new business comes with several challenges, both expected and unexpected. Having a mentor is important but having the right mentor is imperative.
As much as you think you may “know” the ropes already, nothing can fully prepare you for all the obstacles you will face along the way. From pitching to investors to hiring your core team, having an outsider with an unbiased opinion will be a necessary asset to help move your business in the right direction. These mentors can help guide you through pivotal moments of your startup’s journey.
Below are four ways to help you find the perfect mentor to match your needs:
1. Look for a mentor who has been through the entrepreneurial journey before.
Seeking out a mentor who has experienced the startup world before can be extremely valuable when it comes to giving you the advice you need. There are certain things others may not be able to relate to if they haven’t experienced the challenges first hand. Your personal and professional life will change drastically, especially if this is your first go at running a startup. If you can find someone who has worked in your industry before, it’s an advantage but not necessary at the beginning stages.
It’s more important to find someone who has experienced both sides of the coin. You may not directly learn from others’ mistakes, but understanding the various common pitfalls of the startup world will be beneficial to your growth and development. At OC4V, we work closely alongside the companies in our studio as if we were apart of the founding team ourselves. We provide honest feedback and help you overcome the series of hurdles you will face as a startup founder.
“I’ve only been at OC4 for a short amount of time and yet I already feel the substantial amount of value it brings to me and my company. The team here guides me every step of the way and makes me feel that they are truly a part of my team.”
– Shaufir Rahman, CEO of Chatterworks
2. Look for a mentor with their own established network.
Having an established network that is easily accessible is a powerful tool. Knowing the right people to connect with is key, whether its investors, professional service providers or people in general that can make other good introductions for you. Regardless of the size of your current network, you can never know too many people. A mentor can easily help facilitate beneficial relationships with vetted contacts.
When running a startup, every moment of your time has monetary value. Many startups waste a lot of time and money on finding the right individuals to help propel their businesses forward. Even finding the right insurance provider or bookkeeper can take an absorptive amount of time which takes away from you focusing on the core parts of your business.
3. Look for a mentor who can think strategically and help you grow.
There’s always a chance that you may have to make significant changes throughout your startup’s journey. Famous companies like Twitter and Instagram made major pivots to get to where they are today. Selecting a mentor who thinks strategically and knows when to pivot is vital to your success. These mentors will help you maneuver through the challenges you will come across that could be detrimental to your business.
As we say at OC4, you need more than capital to build and scale a successful business. Strategy plays a big role in raising money and making important and often difficult business decisions. You need guidance from someone who is removed from the situation to help you see the big picture.
A good mentor will help prepare you for these hardships. If you’re new to the startup world, there are likely a lot of questions you may not be prepared to answer by potential investors. Your mentor will help prepare you for these unforeseen situations and assist you in formulating the right answers.
4. Look for a mentor who can assist you with recruit talent and board members.
Hiring the wrong team can set you back tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars according to various studies. The right mentor will help you find not only the right talent but the right cultural fit for your startup. Part of finding a mentor that has an established network means they cannot only connect you to capital and resources but connect you to the individuals who will help your company go from zero to one hundred.
After you create your team and start to scale, you will want to start thinking about putting together an advisory board. It’s important to find professionals with diverse backgrounds to assist you during your growth.