Should you have a mentor, as a young entrepreneur? If you want to increase your chances of success, you do. A mentor can give you helpful advice and encouraging words to get you through the problems and challenges of being an entrepreneur and take your business to the next level. Mentors can also help connect you to more people, for potential new partnerships, contacts or customers. But, how do you find a mentor? Here are three great ideas for finding a mentor to help you as a young entrepreneur:
- Networking events
The great thing about networking events, is that there are usually local business leaders who attend and are looking for new contacts, employees/interns and potential business partners. You can also connect with local professionals in many different areas and expand your personal network, even if you don’t find the right mentor, right away. If you’re old enough to drive, you can reach out to the person or group organizing the networking event and ask if teen entrepreneurs are welcome. If you can’t drive, ask a parent to take you to a networking event and have them introduce you to local professionals at the event.
- Volunteer programs
Volunteer programs and events are also good places to meet professionals. Consider using sites like Volunteer Match to search for volunteering opportunities in your city that match your interests. After attending a few meetings/events regularly, you will start to see familiar faces and can connect with a possible mentor and other types of new contacts.
- Social media
You can look for mentors on social media, especially on sites like LinkedIn that target professionals. Use keyword searches, to find professionals who are in your industry, or share the same interests. But don’t let your first direct message to a LinkedIn contact, or other social media contact, start with asking that person to be your mentor. Get to know the person first, by reading and commenting on their posts, and by reading and leaving comments on their blog/podcast if they have one. Also, if you can, try to offer some help or value (for example, feedback on that person’s product/service.) You can then ask the person if they will be your mentor, after you and your potential mentor have had at least a few online discussions.
A Final Thought
A popular business story is the story of the entrepreneur who made it, using only his/her talent and hard work. That story is a myth. The truth? Everyone who runs a business gets help from someone else. And that help usually comes from a lot of different people, including one or more mentors.