No, this blog post is not about my rant how someone tricks me into believing him/her. Instead, this blog post is about how I choose to follow the entrepreneurial journey of only a select few of entrepreneurs – so you don’t have to trust the wrong person for business advice. Interested in finding the right business mentor? Let’s read on!
First thing first: Why you need a business mentor
Good business mentors can share you their know-how about the industry; about the nitty-gritty of running a business; about the lifestyle; about the expectations; about everything, really.
You need a mentor simply because you are a newbie; you might have the education, but in real life, things can be very, very different! Everyone gotta start as a newbie, so you need those who have been in your shoes before. Why? Because you never do what you are about to do – what comes next after launching a business? What can go wrong when running a store? When is the right time to hire your first employee? What to do when my employee steals? How to handle customer complaints effectively? How to negotiate? How to pursue work-life balance? What to do when a competitor is doing negative campaign?
All in all, when you don’t have a mentor, you should be ready for surprises – good or bad. I suggest you to look for one – seriously.
So, how to choose a mentor?
Okay – if you want a short answer on how to choose the right business mentors, here’s the saying that pretty much sum it all up: If you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.
Here’s a long answer to help you understand better why it’s important for getting advice from the right business mentors: To find the right mentor, you should seek one with the following characteristics:
1. Practice what he/she preaches
Many people can be very smart and they are more than capable to teach and give lectures in universities. But as a mentor, who will guide you through your dark hours and help your personal/professional development, you need someone who has the experience – someone who has the been-there-done-that.
If you want advice on entrepreneurship, you obviously want a mentor who is a successful entrepreneur.
If you want investing advice, you should ask someone who is a successful investor.
If you want advice on how to run a small business, you obviously want a mentor who has experienced the ups and downs in small business ownership.
If you want advice on how to start an online business or make money online, you should go for someone who have build one him/herself.
Unfortunately, the business world is also the home of some smart con-men.
In my line of business, online business/making money online, I know so many people claiming to be “experts” and make millions by telling other that they are, indeed, “experts” – and becoming wealthy because they sell “tools” for people to make money online.
So, let’s just say that those so-called experts are very smart in identifying opportunities and capitalize on them. I’d say they are smart online entrepreneur but I don’t think they are good mentors for you. Why? Because what they are going to teach you all about is how to promote THEIR “tools” to others and give you commission for your effort. You CAN make a nice amount of money doing so, but you CAN’T learn something sustainable from doing so.
Instead of cash, I personally want to go after the priceless: The mentors’ knowledge.
2. Never claims himself/herself as expert without proof
If you know someone who claims that he/she is an expert, he/she needs to give you some proofs; you can’t trust someone being an expert just because he/she says so!
I’ve stumbled on some landing pages containing pitches like, “Hi, my name is XYZ. I am an expert in Internet Marketing and I want to show you how I get $7,632/month without lifting a finger, working from home.”
I suggest you stay away from the so-called experts. They will sell you membership, tools or any other products and will let you be their affiliate and receive commissions every time someone buys their products from you. Some are scammers, but even the legitimate ones won’t enable you to make even half of what they claim. Why?
Because they make money by selling their products to you and your referrals. You won’t be making as much as them – unless you develop your own product and do what they do.
So, who you can trust? That’s right – someone who, again, not only talks the talk but also walks the walk. Someone who has a proof of his/her success; in making money online, that’s someone like John Chow; Darren Rowse; Jeremy Schoemaker. Not only selling products, they also share their expertise. They share the tools they use their own; they share methods they use themselves; while those often don’t come cheap, they are worth every penny.
3. Willing to guide you by hand
Want some small business advice? Just go to Anita Campbell, CEO of Small Biz Trends, LLC, the home of small business authoritative sites, like SmallBizTrends.com, BizSugar.com, etc. She is super-busy, but I know she respond to your queries – personally.
Want franchising advice? Just go to Joel Libava. Guiding you by hand is his job – he is a reputable franchise consultant whom you can trust when you want advice on choosing the right franchise and determining whether franchising is for you or not.
There are so many other experts who are happy to mentor you, and many of them are not A-listers in their industries. In fact, I’ve learned so many things from my not-so-well-known mentors. They have been in my shoes for years. They can help me establish better business, while offering me tips that money can’t buy. Even better, one of them is interested in funding my next venture. So yes, mentors can also be angel investors, too!
4. Have raving reviews, testimonials and endorsements
Just like anything else, reviews are important. When I go to a local restaurant, I always read for reviews. When there’s no review, I won’t go there; this also true when I am going to stay in a hotel. I always read for what people think about it; so-so reviews mean I need to stay away from it; no review means big question mark.
When you are looking for mentors, you should also look the ones who have been endorsed by people you trust; your friends and family can be a good starting point. Your local business chamber can also recommend you mentors.
Where to find business mentors?
As I mentioned above, your local business chambers or trade associations can be a good starting point. You can also look for Government-sponsored mentoring program, as well as business mentoring services available in your local area.
I personally find out more about a mentor online, searching for who people recommend and what people think about a particular mentor. I also look for recommendations on business community and forums, such as Startup Nation.
Here is a list of resources I recommend you to visit for tips on finding the right business mentors for your niche and business type…
Scammers are there to scam, obviously – they want to steal your money. And some smart business men just want to profit from you, nothing more. Some other business people want to form partnership with you to grow a business together. Those are much talked about.\
How about mentoring? Well, not many are willing to be business mentors. Why?
Because a mentor needs to spend time – often money – to help you. And their greatest pleasure is knowing that you are becoming successful. To me, a business mentor is pretty similar to angel investor, but he/she focuses more on offering their know-how and guidance than funding.
So, if you don’t have someone who can mentor you, I suggest you to start looking for one. It’s the best investment you can give for your entrepreneurial journey.