How to Get the Most From Your Mentor

by Beth Rifkin

2 min read

If you are an entrepreneur in Canada and seeking a mentor, local nonprofit organizations such as Futurpreneur and MentorshipBC offer support and connect you with business experts that are suited to your circumstances. A mentor can provide you with expert advice, outside perspective, and skill development to help you make better decisions regarding your startup.

Foster a Close Professional Relationship

Build rapport with your mentor by fostering a professional working relationship. Consider organizing a weekly coffee meetup to stay at the forefront of your mentor’s mind. Use regular meetings to provide updates about your business and to make small talk. Taking your mentor to a sports game is an excellent way to discover shared interests and provides an opportunity to thank your mentor for the guidance. For example, you could take your mentor to a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game and discover you both support the same team, giving you something outside business to discuss.

Leverage Your Mentor’s Contacts

A mentor who is an industry veteran is likely to have a vast network of many contacts. Ask for introductions to decision makers at businesses you’d like to partner with. For example, you may operate a small online business and need a reliable supplier to drop ship products to your customers. Ask if your mentor knows a contact at a reputable supplier. Research individuals your mentor name drops to determine if they could assist you.

Choose a Mentor With Industry Experience

Select a mentor who has practical experience in your business’s industry. Make sure they have 15 to 30 years of experience; ideally, they have experienced your industry in times of both boom and bust to provide you with perspective. For example, if you are a financial planner and primarily advise your clients about stocks, consider choosing a mentor who witnessed the 1987 stock market crash as well as the rise of technology stocks in the early 2000s; that person have the experience to advise you how to run your business in different economic conditions. Interview several mentors to determine if they have the necessary experience to assist your business.

Ask Specific Questions

Every small business has different needs; ask you mentor precise questions that relate to your startup. Where you require guidance, ask about experience dealing with a similar situation. For instance, if you own a small accounting business and intend to launch cloud accounting software, you could ask about issues that your mentor encountered when launching similar software for other clients. Before you attend a meeting with your mentor, ask questions that need a solution to keep you focused. Canada actively supports entrepreneurs who want mentoring assistance. Mentoring can bring benefits that help you run a successful business. Selecting a mentor with industry experience, leveraging your mentor’s contacts, and asking specific questions makes sure you get the most out of your mentor relationship.

References & Resources

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