As entrepreneurs, we’re constantly looking for problems to solve. It’s in our blood to be ambitious and relentless. It’s also in our favor to learn and improve as we go. One of the biggest factors in learning is having a mentor.
Having a mentor, or multiple mentors, yields immeasurable value. You’ll learn faster, you’ll work smarter, and you’ll have more “general” direction. By general direction I mean not being completely clueless (like most stubborn entrepreneurs). The hardest part is finding one! But fear not… it might be easier than you think! Keep on reading…
Look for experts in your field
The first step is to evaluate the experts in your field. Unless you’re inventing something new, chances are someone’s done your dance before. The closer you can get to someone in your area the more insight you’ll receive and be able to use. For example, if you’re building a new wearable fitness tracker go after someone like the founders of Fitbit, instead of the CEO of Nike. While Nike may have created a fuel band, their CEO didn’t go through the same struggles and challenges that the founders of Fitbit experienced. Those struggles and challenges are where the real learning comes from.
Several years ago I decided to scale back my freelancing in order to pursue building products. In my search for guidance I quickly found Jason Fried, co-founder and CEO of Basecamp. Jason also transitioned from client work into product development, years before me, so his insight was extremely valuable. I’ve never actually met him in person, but his articles and webcasts alone have made him a great mentor as I pursue a similar path.
Use the Internet
Next, use the internet. The beauty of modern day technology makes it easier than ever to connect with potential mentors. You can literally email or message some of the most influential people in the world on social platforms, right now! That’s not to say they’ll respond, but at least you have a chance. Even if you don’t connect with them directly you can follow them on twitter or linkedin, or catch some public speeches they’ve given over the web.
There are also cool services like Clarity that offer you the chance to buy some time from successful entrepreneurs. Some of them might charge a few hundred bucks for minutes of their time, but that few hundred bucks could save you thousands in your endevours.
Find someone that resonates with YOU
The last step is to find someone that really resonates with YOU. I say this because there’s a lot of successful people out there writing and talking about a lot of things. It’s easy to get distracted and not every piece of advice is right for your situation. Not all entrepreneurs are alike either. Different tones and attitudes deliver different messages.
I’ve found that I’m more engaged when reading or listening to entrepreneurs that talk the way I do. For example, I’ve recently been gravitating towards Gary Vaynerchuck, an accomplished entrepreneur and dynamic speaker. The way he writes and speaks is much different than some more conservative thought leaders I’ve read and listened to. I like that about him. He’s not afraid to curse. He tells it to you straight. His message is more impactful for what I’m doing. It resonates. You’ll feel the same way when you hear someone that resonates with you.
Go Find your Mentor!
I hope this was helpful for people out there in need of a mentor. Do some research, watch some TED talks, google thought leaders in your industry, and then go find a mentor! It will help you immensely, I guarantee.