Making It with a Mentor

Written on Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 at 7:13 pm by Adaire
Filed under Sharing Success.

Good advice was one of the first things I looked for when I started out as an entrepreneur. If you’re about to begin your venture, you should look for some, too. It may be tempting to think that you already have all the answers, but if you haven’t actually immersed yourself in your particular industry just yet, it would be best to take a heaping slice of that humble pie and get some pointers from a seasoned professional.

Finding the Right Mentor

How you succeed in your business depends quite a bit on which people you often talk to. Moreover, you gain even more success if you actually talk to someone who is intellectually invested in your pursuits as well. Thus, people who are lucky enough to get an actual mentor, to whom you can actively seek sound advice, and who also dishes out the right suggestions even when you don’t ask them to, will definitely have a huge advantage over others.

But how do you find the right mentor? How do you find your Yoda or Obi Wan amidst the sea of people who think they know what’s good for you?

Suffice it to say that this part can get pretty tricky. It can be incredibly tempting to just fall for someone who, on the outside, appears very impressive and charismatic, but on the inside is actually just some hack with nothing better to do with their time. How do you look away from all that razzle-dazzle in order to see the real person?

I have to admit that I got a bit loopy in this department back in the day. :) There were so many different kinds of people telling me that their advice was the only one worth listening to! Fortunately, I was able to hold myself back from doing anything too rash. I stepped out of the circle for a bit, took a deep breath, and looked at everything as objectively as possible. It was during this moment of calm that I figured out who I needed to listen to. :)

Family and Friendship vs. Actual Success

This might sound strange to you right now, but one of the first groups of people I crossed off of my “Potential Mentors” list were some of my friends and family – at least the ones who were trying their darndest to get a say in the ventures I was about to enter. But why step back from your nearest and dearest? Because they are exactly that: your nearest and dearest.

Laurie Hayes could not have said it any better in her article “Advice for Home Business Success,” which I came across in Small Business CEO Magazine. She said, “Although the intentions of family and friends are often good, they have a personal interest in you – an investment in the outcome. Your results will have an impact them so it’s difficult for them to offer input from an objective standpoint.”

As much as I would love them to be involved in my endeavors, it would just be the far wiser thing to seek help from someone who, while intellectually invested, is not emotionally invested in all of it. You want someone who can give you advice based on their own, concrete experience of actual success – no more, no less. In contrast, you don’t want someone who tells you to do certain things because they “care for you,” or “know you too well,” or “just want to make sure you’re okay.” That latter kind of advice, well-meaning as it may be, has absolutely no basis in the world of success.

Turn your family and friends down gently, should they get to this point. If they truly care about you and your success, they’ll ultimately understand. :)

Starting Off Your Apprenticeship

Now that you know what kind of advice to avoid, how then do you really start your apprenticeship? Fortunately, the Internet has made this once-intimidating task fairly easy, provided you do your searches wisely. Don’t choose just anyone with a good track record in their business ventures. Choose someone whose business ventures actually tie up with yours. If you want to succeed in article marketing, find someone who made big bucks specifically in article marketing and not, for instance, in e-book publishing.

Once you’ve pinned down the right person, what should the next step be? According to Cynthia Minnaar in her Small Business CEO Magazine piece “Online Home Business Advice to Help You Achieve Success,” you should “[S]tart spending some time with them. You can do this easily by joining their online newsletter, reading their blog, listening to archived Webinars or you could consider joining an online mentoring group.”

If the person you admire is already dispensing advice to other up-and-comers, join in on the conversation. If this person is not a particular mentor to anyone just yet, approach them with the right amount of respect and bravado. You shouldn’t seem too overeager to build a relationship with them – you don’t want to come off as a creep! :) But, at the same time, you should show your sincere appreciation of their accomplishments, and your desire to learn from them.

If things go well and you and your potential mentor warm up to each other, you’ll be amazed by how well your endeavors could turn out!

The Advantages of Apprenticeship

It’s never a bad thing to admit that we need a little help sometimes, most especially when we’re just starting out in a new business venture. And if you get a good mentor, chances are, that person won’t coddle you or smother you. They will guide you, but they will make sure that you do everything according to your own skills and capacities. They will teach you universal truths about business, and some crucial advice regarding your niche, but they will never try to outright control what you do.

Just as our parents and teachers at school helped us to grow in our childhoods, so will our business mentors help us to climb the rungs of entrepreneurial success. :)


Images by: Renjith Krishnan/

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