Startups, Entrepreneurship & Business: Finding Your Mentor

Mentorship is important in any business enterprise, whether you are running a new startup, or climbing the corporate ladder in an existing organization. Whether you are an entrepreneur, or a professional in any field, it will be important to have someone to turn to for advice, guidance and encouragement in order to advance in your field.

This is especially important for any entrepreneur or business manager, although mentorship is also an essential part of one’s career development in any field and position. Even CEOs and other top executives need someone they can turn to as an inspiration or for advice.

Having a mentor does not always mean just having one person, though. While mentors can be found in more experienced professionals and entrepreneurs, one can also find a mentor through other activities, such as a social network, a blog or even colleagues in the same level and position. Other mentorship programs involve a formal setup, such as the previously ANZ Innovyz Start mentorship program, and the Startup Village in India we featured earlier.

Cross-training. For one, cross-training is important in one’s career development. In order to rise up the corporate ladder — or any other organizational structure in your business — you will need to learn skills different from your own. This is why apprentices and assistants being groomed for higher positions are often introduced to work with various departments. This way, they have a familiarity with the inner workings of the different divisions in one company. As a manager, you can find advice and even training from colleagues and higher-ups in departments other than your own.

Startup businesses need to be focused, but an entrepreneur needs to be flexible and knowledgeable in fields other than one’s own expertise. This can allow a startup the flexibility and agility to address problems through different perspectives.

Reading blogs, websites. Additionally, you can turn to reading for mentorship. There are hundreds of websites and blogs that offer expert advice on just about any topic. Most of the time, successful business entrepreneurs will share their knowledge and experience online. This thought leadership establishes them as experts in their field. It also helps other professionals – like yourself – learn from other people’s experiences.

The mentor. Of course, there is the traditional form of mentorship – that which you can attain from an actual person who is an expert in the field. In this kind of arrangement, a mentor can be your boss, or a successful business entrepreneur who is investing in your enterprise, or even a successful entrepreneur who is a personal friend. For startup organizations and teams, some investors and venture capitalists offer mentorship programs. This is very popular with business schools, in which students are encouraged to build their companies and seek funding, while under the guidance of an established mentor.

Self-mentorship. Lastly, there’s the idea of self-mentorship. Mentorship does not necessarily have to be external. You are ultimately responsible for your own success. As such, you will want to take some time to mentor yourself. At the end of each work day, look back into the lessons learned during the day. Put your experiences into writing so you will not forget. There is a great deal of knowledge and wisdom you can attain from looking back at your own experiences, so that you will repeat best practices and avoid mistakes.

Mentorship is about perspectives — sharing them and gaining them both from inner and outer sources. It’s about finding great ways to solve problems, or even finding problems to solve. In any scenario the end-goal is to learn and to improve yourself through a guide who has had more experience and knowledge in your field.