May 8, 2017

Why you need a mentor

Not got a mentor yet? Maybe it’s time you got one. Having a mentor has all kinds of benefits, from profitability to peace of mind, not to mention a bit of much-needed company in this entrepreneurial journey.

Why would you want a mentor?

Plenty of people manage to be successful without a mentor — so you might wonder, why should you go through the trouble of finding one?

To set big goals — and then hit them.

Even if a person is only a few years down the line from you, they’ll have experiences that you can learn from. Not only can a mentor encourage you to set bigger goals (many of us, especially at the start of our careers, tend to limit ourselves!), they can also help you break down the big goal into smaller steps.

Breaking a big goal down into less-intimidating steps is helpful, but so is going over those steps (and when you’ll do them) with someone else. Multiple studies have shown that writing down or saying out loud not just that you will do something, but when and where you’ll do it, makes you much more likely to actually do it. Having a mentor can help you stick to that process, and gives you someone to hold you accountable.

To keep you focused on the big picture.

When you’re stuck in the day to day, keeping an eye on the big picture — not just this quarter, but also this year, the next five years, you name it — can feel impossible. You need an outside point of view to help you stay focused on your overall goals, and remind you what you’re working towards.

It’s also helpful to have someone around who can point out when you are making progress and can’t see it. When you’re taking smaller actions over time, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t making any progress at all — this is when having another person around to remind you of the progress you’re making comes in handy.

To give you a reality check.

Even if you’re doing your own research to stay up on industry trends, there are things you might miss without the insight of someone who’s been there. However much research you do, it can be easy to make mistakes about product development, time estimates and shipping costs. Over time, marginal errors can really add up.

Even if they’re not enough to sink the campaign or product, they can add a lot of unnecessary stress. With the guidance of someone who’s been there and done that, you’ll be able to dodge more of the pitfalls.

In addition to giving you “been there, done that, here’s what you need to know and definitely shouldn’t do” insight, a good mentor can also help you realize when you’re making a mountain out of a molehill, or when you’re potentially creating future problems by procrastinating on something right now. Having that outside perspective can make a huge difference.

Where to find a mentor (and what to look for)

Personal referrals and networking events or professionally-oriented meetups can give you a leg up in finding a mentor, but there are other options, too — including organizations that specialize in mentor relationships.

Here are a few organizations that can help match you with a mentor:

  • MicroMentor pairs up entrepreneurs with mentors for free
  • The National Mentoring Partnership helps with mentors across all areas of life, including career
  • Score matches people with mentors locally and online

You can also check with your local chamber of commerce and small business organizations — they often have mentorship programs Virtual mentors are also on the rise. In particular, Slack groups are a great way to meet people, network, and get advice from peers at your level or a few years ahead of you. Good luck!

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