There are many benefits to mentoring. From the satisfaction of giving something back to honing your own career, mentorship has its rewards. Employing managerial skills and guiding your entrepreneur through a key stage in their career is often just the beginning. It is a commitment as personal one-on-one mentoring is a time-consuming activity. So, take it on and do it right. Here are seven aspects that make you a strong mentor.
PROBLEM SOLVING. Be part of the solution. The job of the mentor isn’t to take over but to bring an experienced perspective to the startup. Help the entrepreneur weigh out options and sort through the available information. Point out areas that need consideration. Ultimately, a good mentor will give solid advice and let the entrepreneur make the decision.
CURIOSITY. Ask good questions. The answer is not alway apparent, and sometimes the problem needs defining. To get to the core of issue, be inquisitive. Define what needs fixing—people, process, technology? Outline possible actions. Map out where are we now vs where we want to be. The mentor can help reason whether this or that is the right direction, considering the big picture.
RESOURCEFULNESS. Assist with building the means to getting things done. There are many ways a Mentor can bring assets to a startup. Network building helps get expertise and talent to the venture. Process development helps build efficacy. And, of course, funding is always a critical need.
KNOWLEDGE. Align with your expertise. Match your skill set with the needs of the startup entrepreneur. You may have specialized in a particular discipline, or have held senior management positions, or had entrepreneurial experience applicable to the startup. Share your stories to teach the lessons you have learned along the way.
COMMITMENT. You are making an investment to the entrepreneur in the long run. Keep your promises. Hold your self accountable and model expectations of accountability from your entrepreneur.
LEADERSHIP. Nurture the culture—the way people treat each other will be a factor in building camaraderie that will carry the team through tough times. Have a familiarity with the organization’s norms and be ready to articulate and teach the culture. This is contributing to what matters most—people.
VISION. Share a future outlook. Look to next phase and encourage the entrepreneur to continue innovation. Help the founder continue to communicate the dream as the company grows.
Founders care more about the outcome than any body else, next to the mentor who has aligned with the cause. To prosper, the relationship between mentor and entrepreneur must be mutually beneficial. Mentoring is a fulfilling experience that feeds ambition and satisfies a desire to make a difference. With these seven characteristics in mind, you are ready to engage in the adventure of helping bring life to a startup.