But there are common persistent mistakes that entrepreneurs make when consulting a mentor. Let’s examine each one, and find out ways you can avoid falling into the same trap.
Mistake 1: Choosing an unenthusiastic mentorNot everyone will be knowledgeable about your industry or even understand your business – especially if it’s something completely new. Think twice about engaging with a mentor who doesn’t seem interested in your vision.
Instead, choose someone who displays clear enthusiasm in what you are trying to achieve. You don’t necessarily want someone to gush about your business, and you do need a mentor who will point out issues. But there’s a difference between a mentor who delivers tough love – versus someone who squelches your dreams.
Everyone who goes into business for themselves has an idol. Maybe it is Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Richard Branson?
Mistake 2: Setting expectations too low
Don’t expect a mentor to be a billionaire like Branson or Gates. But do set your sights on someone you look up to and reach out to that person.
The worst he or she can do is say no, and what have you really lost? A few hours of your time? But then again, the person might say yes!
A mentor is not an unpaid employee or contractor. A good mentor will
be extremely busy with his or her own business matters. He or she will
make time for you, but will lose patience if you try to palm off your
workload. If your mentor is a consultant, attorney, accountant, etc.,
don’t expect the mentor to perform those services for your company
Mistake 3: Expecting your mentor to do your work
Once you decide to go into business for yourself, you need an open
mind and a thick skin. People will not always agree with you, and in
order to make changes, you have to be willing and able to accept
constructive feedback. Freaking out when someone criticizes your
business is not going to endear you to your mentor.
Mistake 4: Not accepting input
So sit back, take a deep breath, and invite your mentor to take a no-holds-barred approach to your business. Invite input, no matter how much “tough love” you’re getting. Then take that input to make your company better.
It can be easy for you to launch into talking about your aims,
ambitions, and ways of doing things – and never come up for air. But you
are not going to learn anything if you don’t allow the mentor to speak
and impart his or her wisdom. Remember to ask questions, listen and take
Mistake 5: Doing all the talking
You may feel sensitive about your business secrets. And in some
cases, the need for secrecy may be justified, such as in the case of
Mistake 6: Worrying about secrets
If you truly feel you have a patentable invention or trade secret, talk with an attorney about what you need to do to protect your rights, including asking the mentor to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Unless your attorney tells you it involves something requiring extreme confidentiality for legal reasons, open up so you can get value out of the relationship with your mentor.
Mentors are busy people, with schedules as long as your arm.
Mistake 7: Being too persistent and needy
That is why constantly bombarding them with phone messages, emails, and text messages; asking constant questions; and demanding more and more of their time is going to lead very quickly to you and the mentor parting company.
So take a chill pill, keep all your questions written down for your next mentoring session, and give your mentor the space to get on with his or her business and life. Be a respectful colleague – not a stalker.
Having a business mentor can have big positive advantages for the future evolution of your company – if it is done properly. Hopefully, the seven common issues outlined here will help you from falling into the same trap as other entrepreneurs and lead to a fruitful mentorship relationship.
Finally, remember that this month is National Mentoring Month.
Originally published by smallbiztrends, by author Anita Campbell
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