For entrepreneurs in every industry, there’s one thing in common: we’re always moving. With a fast-paced lifestyle and little time for anything other than what’s necessary, there are often many areas of life and leadership that get neglected. But there is one critical element of leadership that cannot be forgotten in the midst of entrepreneurial hustle – the value of mentorship.
I’ve worked with mentors my entire career. Mentorship has singlehandedly been the most important factor in my career and in my life. Mentors are the reason I was able to follow a successful path, learn the ins and outs of networking and advance my career. But making the shift from being a professional to a full-time entrepreneur created new challenges – I needed new mentors with entrepreneurial experience. I learned quickly moving into life as an entrepreneur that if I was going to be successful, I needed the same magnitude of mentors – just with entrepreneurial experience and connections.
Entrepreneurs who have found success are – in my experience – willing and grateful to share their experiences. You just need to be bold and strategic in seeking out mentors, followed by being intentional in the way you work with them. So, start somewhere. Network, find mentors who inspire you and who emulate the knowledge you want to know, the way you want to lead and the habits you want to copy.
To make sure you’re most effective in the complex world of entrepreneurship, here are the mentors you’ll want in your corner:
1.A leadership mentor.
Being an entrepreneur and leading a nonprofit or tech company is more than simply knowing your market and your business – it also involves a heavy dose of leadership over the people who contribute to your vision every day. Leading a team is hard. It takes years of cultivating experience, mentality and character, and if you’re a young leader it may not come as easily or as quickly as you hoped. Work with a mentor willing to share their leadership lessons – the pitfalls and the successes – to help train you in leading and inspiring your team with competency and compassion.
2.A tactical mentor.
As I’ve navigated the pains and gains of being a new startup founder, I’ve often thought “I wish someone would just tell me what to do!” While you ultimately need to know your market and business, having a tactical mentor to help you with operational elements and tactical questions can help tremendously. Whether you talk through your businesses’ strategy or discuss entrepreneurial best practices, a tactical mentor can help take the guesswork out of leading a startup as a first-time founder. As you learn and grow, you’ll be able to contribute similar advice to others who come after you.
3.A personal mentor.
When you’re growing a business as an entrepreneur, you often need to make sacrifices for your company or organization. This means giving up your evenings, weekends or even opting out of extracurricular activities. But all entrepreneurs need to remember that balance is key. A personal mentor – who’s also understanding of your professional life – is important in making sure you’re fulfilled and healthy. If your business fails, what’s left? Making sure you’re spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health are in order is important to being an effective leader and will help you avoid the pitfalls of burnout. Leverage a personal mentor to keep you accountable and help bring perspective on the decisions you’re making in business and how they impact you in life.
Said profoundly by Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” The power of mentorship cannot be understated. By working with a mentor, you’ll learn and grow personally, professionally and tactically.
No matter what industry you operate in, whether you’re leading a nonprofit or a tech startup, find a mentor – or a group of them – who will invest in you and help you achieve your goals of making an impact as you learn to live and lead effectively.