LC042: Finding the Right Mentor for your Startup

launchpeer - July 24, 2018

Today’s question:

Today’s question comes from Cheryl. From what I understand, a mentor should help guide growth and stop telling founders to quit their startup. What responsibility does a mentor have if they know failure is imminent?

Jake’s answer:

Mentor’s are highly valuable for early stage startup founders. But know that they won’t come find you – you have to actively seek them out.

When you do seek out a mentor, it’s important to outline what you need from a mentor and what it means to you. To some people. being a mentor means being a cheerleader and for others the best mentors are those who provide the honest truth. The mentor’s job is to coach the founder.

Sometimes being a coach means having hard conversations with the people you are coaching. Mentors should be the ones to tell you if your startup is failing. They shouldn’t be the only ones (your lack of sales would tell you that), but they should be willing to say it.

Solutions-Based Mentors

A good mentor should provide a solution to the founder rather than just tell them to throw out the problem by closing the doors. Your mentor should be solution-oriented. There are a lot things that go into running a business, so it’s important that you have someone with experience who can speak to solutions rather than just letting you know there’s a problem.

Finding a good mentor is difficult. It’s not like hiring an employee. You should vet your mentors as much as you can and don’t just take any mentor who offers. If you plan to have a lot of interaction with the mentor, then you should do as much vetting as you can because they will have control of your ear. They should be a good fit for your startup, it should feel right. Don’t bring them on because of their connections or their education or any other vanity stat.

What would I say about this person if I was having a conversation about them with my parents or close friends? It’s a good measuring stick for if they are a good fit. Make sure you trust them and value their opinion – otherwise they aren’t a valuable use of your time.

What would I say about this person if I was having a conversation about them with my parents or close friends? Click To Tweet

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