Need help starting to plan your business or in the middle of preparing to launch your startup? You might find that having someone to act as a sounding board or hearing from a person who’s been in your shoes before is just what you need to begin or keep going. Whoever fills roles such as these could be considered a mentor.
Mentors can be sought out in peers, friends, investors, advisors, or the people you meet in various situations. Mentors will be invested in your well-being and success, actively meeting or corresponding with you to check in and help you set and complete goals. They can provide perspectives from a range of experiences and find value in giving back to the community in the same way that they were once helped. Typically, mentors offer their time and resources free of charge to others who could benefit from hearing about their processes, challenges, and successes.
The Mentor Program at Stoke is open to the public and structured as an “office hour” during each week day. A different mentor with experience and insight in various areas will be present to chat with visitors from 12 PM to 1 PM in Stoke’s middle conference room, conference room 2. When the door is open, feel free to drop in and meet a local entrepreneur mentor!
Mentoring That Works
At a recent networking and training event “Mentoring That Works” presented by Texas Woman’s University’s Center for Women in Business and hosted at Stoke, Dr. Pushkala Raman, professor in TWU’s College of Business, dispelled some myths about mentors that include
You only need a mentor when you’re facing challenges/you don’t need one when you’re successful
You can only have one mentor
Your mentor will have all the answers and tell you what to do
Dr. Pushkala Raman teaches marketing strategy, international marketing, and research. From research on mentoring, she discussed the findings of surveying approximately 300 women and meeting with 50 successful, professional women. Women receive less access to people and resources that help accelerate careers; finding a mentor can help offset this disparity. She listed strategies for women to find mentors and available institutional support, as well as how technological innovation has expanded mentoring beyond traditional approaches like one-on-one mentoring.
How A Mentor Can Help You
A mentor or group of mentors can help you by
Reviewing your work and plans and providing constructive criticism
Advising you in developing skills and identifying which are most important to strengthen
Setting attainable and measurable goals with you, along with a timeline
Listening when you “vent constructively” and guiding you through frustrations
Connecting you with resources and people who can also help you
Even with the advice of a mentor or mentors, you’ll still need to sift through the various opinions of [the] group and determine the right path for your specific business.
Choosing a Mentor
To work with a mentor, you need self-awareness, the ability to listen, and the humility to be mentored. A mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be formally designated, though structure and formality in a mentor-mentee relationship, in terms of scheduling meetings and accountability, can be helpful. Mentors can be found through your workplace, from your academic years, with a peer, or with someone in the field that you’re in.
It also isn’t just about finding any mentor, it’s about finding the right one. “The right mentor will have an exceedingly positive impact on both the private life of an entrepreneur and the performance of the business.”
Sometimes you’ll find an external mentor (someone outside of your business or organization), an internal mentor (someone on your team), and in some cases, even your relationship with your clients/customers can become mentor/mentee relationships, since there is a lot to learn from your target audience.
During her talk at Stoke, Dr. Raman recommended joining a relevant professional association, volunteer groups, and being open to meeting new mentors wherever you meet new people to find a mentor. She also discussed the concept of a “lurker mentee” as a different method of finding mentorship. A lurker mentee is someone who is an observant participant in different forms of mentorship, such as following the blogs, posts, and podcasts of the people they emulate and would want to be their mentor.
The Mentor/Mentee Relationship
Mentorship requires at least some level of agreement and commitment from both parties, though it’s entirely possible that someone could already fit the mentor role in your life without a formal agreement. You should also be someone who delivers value to your mentor as well; your success is their success, and you are both usually in similar industries, working to improve it or innovate from within. Though altruism is a quality of many mentors, they’re investing their time and energy in you, ultimately wanting you to do well as a result of their efforts.
What To Look For In A Mentor
You should be able to trust your mentor, especially if things aren’t working according to plan and you need to change course.
An experienced entrepreneur has perspective and insight to guide you out of difficult stages, as they have likely encountered something similar.
Your mentor should be someone you respect and admire, someone who can inspire you to greatness and exceed expectations for the goals that you’re trying to accomplish.
Your mentor should be a good listener and the Socrates to your Plato. This means that they’ll ask you questions to help you reflect and solve problems.
You should be able to discuss ideas and challenges productively and honestly with them.
Entrepreneur Mentors at Stoke Denton
Stoke’s mentor program allows you to stop in during the mentor office hour from 12 PM to 1 PM each week day for a casual meeting or conversation. Our mentors-in-residence are veteran entrepreneurs who want to help others with
Startups, social media marketing, loan readiness or business strategy
Tracy Irby, here on Mondays
Business strategy, messaging for funding, sales and marketing, and planning
Patrick Peters, here on Tuesdays
Helping small businesses thrive, community-focused efforts, and solving social problems through commerce
Simon Trask, here on Wednesdays
and more! Read more about each of the entrepreneur mentors on the Mentors page (linked).
Haven’t visited Stoke yet? You can take a tour after visiting a mentor or book a tour any day of the week to see our conference rooms, coworking and dedicated desk space, event space, and more!