The importance of a mentor and where to find them can be one of the most important tasks a business professional can search for in their journey towards success.
I write about growth strategy, execution & financing
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Why Mentors Matter?
Mentors or business coaches are one of the most valuable resources an entrepreneur should tap into. The idea of launching a business should no longer be a scary or daunting experience, riddled with unknowns. It should be a collaborative experience accumulating the learnings of the hundreds of local entrepreneurs who have already built successful businesses, and can help you move faster and avoid known pitfalls based on their years of experience, as entrepreneurs themselves.
And, what is great about mentors or business coaches is that they come in all shapes and sizes that can handle the myriad of topics that you may be having a problem. So, search for the mentors who are expert on your specific business size, your specific industry, or your specific business problem (e.g., marketing issue vs. technology issue), on a case-by-case basis. Unlike finding a long term person for your formal board of directors or advisory board, as I have previously written about, mentors are more like “hired guns” on one-off topics that present themselves over time.
My Experience as a Mentor
Over my career, I have had the distinct pleasure of mentoring many startup entrepreneurs. Some of that has been via formal mentorship programs at startup accelerators like Techstars, Founder Institute or Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses. And, some of it has been informal conversations along the way, while guest lecturing university students or at entrepreneurial networking events. To me, there is nothing more invigorating than being surrounded by a bunch of excited and motivated entrepreneurs, and trying to help them achieve their goals of building successful businesses. And, I am happy to contribute learnings from my career to help them get up the learning curve faster and for me to give back to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, of which I am a part.
A Mentorship Case Study
As an example, one of the startups I met needed help in structuring a strategic partnership with the leading media company in their industry to assist them with promotion and building up an audience. And, modestly, who better to help them than me, who structured a very similar media-related strategic partnership with National Geographic, while I was building explore in the travel space. Having the benefit of hindsight of cutting a strategic deal with a big media company, I have first-hand experience of what the pluses and minuses of that relationship were after the ink was signed, and it was too late to change anything in the agreement. So, hopefully, this startup can benefit from my experience, and can write a better agreement in their deal, than I did in mine.
CMO Chris Corey
Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member