How to find business mentors

By Chiedo - Last updated on May 1st 2019 - 5 MIN read

Get mentors. Get mentors. Get mentors.

One of my mentors told me that they're like life's cheatcodes.

And I whole-heartedly agree.

It took me 5 years after starting my software development to start reading books and start meeting with mentors.

And the difference is night and day. I wish I had learned from mentors sooner.

Solid mentors have been right where you are and can provide you with a point of view you aren't aware of and alert you to your blindspots.

In my opinion, no one should start a business without a mentor.

Especially not when you plan to employ others.

So the big question remains, how do you find a mentor?

The simple answer is that you've got to put yourself out there and you've got to ask.

I've found my mentors by using the following strategies:

Reading articles about impressive founders and then contacting them on social networks
Meeting impressive CEOs in my local business community and then reaching out to them later
Searching for companies that are way larger than mine and reaching out to the CEO

But remember, the people you'd want as your mentors are likely extremely busy, so don't waste their time.

These things make potential mentors more likely to say yes:

You need to truly respect the people you reach out to. And need to let them know why. Do your research and be specific.
Don't ask for a lot of time. When I reach out to new potential mentors, I just ask for a 15-minute meeting or phone call and then if we hit it off, I ask if I could contact them again when I have a specific question.
You need to be willing to give back when they need a favor (For me, that's meant building websites probono)
Don't waste their time. If you ask for advice, update them on how you processed it even if you decide to make a different decision.

With all of that being said, the best way to find your mentors in my opinion is to join a startup incubator. Sometimes it costs you money to be a part of the community but it's so worth it!

Startup incubators exist for the sole purpose of helping businesses in the idea stage mature into something more.

So they have mentor networks, events, and communities that exist solely to help you grow.

You can use this search engine I built to find one. Right now, it's only for Virginia.

But ultimately, find at least a couple of mentors before you proceed. And find mentors with different specialties if you can.

If you have incubators in your area, join one!

They make everything so much easier at this phase.

But if you don't, it's OK, try and find a co-working space in your area.

You want to take a step forward and surround yourself with a supportive community.

Either way keep moving forward and find mentors using the strategies I mentioned.

Having solid mentors changes everything.

Make finding mentors a priority.

Todo

Find people who you'd like to have as your mentors
Do your background research to learn more about their journey
Tell them why you respect them, and ask them for a 15-minute meeting or call
Ask if you can follow up in the future with specific questions