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Beyond the Pitch

3 Tips to Help Entrepreneurs Get the Most from Mentoring

Mentoring

Mentoring relationships are like a lot of other things in life—what you get out, depends on what you put in.

At Rev1, business mentoring is a cornerstone of our strategic services. We provide access to vetted mentors with an extensive range of expertise and connections.

Here are some ideas to make your mentoring experience with Rev1 mentors the best that it can be.

1. Be specific about the help you need.

Mentoring is most successful when the entrepreneur clearly identifies specific business challenges or critical milestones where a mentor can help. The “asks” can be operational or management-related.

Some examples:

  • “I need help understanding and creating employment agreements” is actionable. “I don’t understand contracts,” not so much.
  • “I could use guidance on how to create an effective board of advisors” is an ideal challenge for mentoring.
  • “Do you have contacts or advice that could help a startup like ours sell into the Fortune 1000 corporations in the Columbus region?”
  • “How do I conduct an effective team meeting?”

For deeper training, in leadership skills, people management, or public speaking, consider formal training programs; there are many options, from free to fee.

2. Use a checklist approach, references, and one-to-one discussions to find a mentor who has the skills and experience you need and the right personal fit.

Once you have validated your startup’s needs, Rev1 can introduce you to potential mentors who have the skills, experience, and expressed the desire to help startups like yours.

From there, it’s up to entrepreneurs and mentors to assess the fit and to agree upon expectations and how to best work together to solve problems and meet milestones.

  • Mentoring is a commitment of time and attention. Does the mentor have the capacity and focus to commit to ongoing assistance and advice? Are they listening, giving your preliminary discussions their full attention or are they texting and emailing from their phone? Do they remember the details of your conversations?
  • Startups benefit from mentors who are action-oriented. Does the mentor recommend action and share tactics? Do they understand your business, industry, and target markets, or do you have to keep explaining things? Can they recommend specific tasks and the steps to accomplish those?
  • The right personal connection is a huge thing. Do you feel trust? Do you accept there are things that you don’t know? Are you ready to seek advice from a mentor? Can you listen to and evaluate suggestions and criticism, accepting some things and rejecting others, but all the while remaining open-minded about the input?

3. Create a mutual agreement on how you and your mentor will work together.

It takes about 90 days to ground relationships between mentors and mentees. These relationships are fluid and evolve over time. To get off to the best start, spend a bit of time establishing expectations and setting a few ground rules.

  • Identify specific goals, timelines, and how you and your mentor will measure the success and achievement of those goals.
  • Discuss up front the cadence of how you will meet and make a commitment to those meetings. One of Rev1’s most effective mentors sets this standard for his mentees: “I’ll allow you to reschedule a meeting, but not cancel it.”
  • Be prepared; don’t just show up. Come to meetings with your mentor ready to work. Starting a mentoring meeting with “What are we going to talk about today?” is a waste of time for you and your mentor both.

There are so many business people, experienced entrepreneurs, and professional experts in the Columbus region who want to help mentor entrepreneurs.

If you would like to connect with a mentor to help your company be more successful reach out to your Rev1 advisor or contact us.

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