Finding a mentor in business is something that I have been really focusing on recently. Last semester I began my Departmental Honors Thesis. Since I am a business major, I created a business for my thesis. The business is called “Mugs the Word”– a place where people can buy hand decorated mugs. Right now all I have is a Facebook page and an Instagram page. I am working on creating a business plan for it by reading Business Plans for Dummies. The book has been extremely helpful so far, giving me advice on how to start off forming a business plan and showing me the steps to take in order to create a business plan. One thing that is mentioned early in the book was finding a business mentor to help me.
What are the qualities I should look for when trying to find a good mentor? So I went to the computer. After a bit of searching, I found a great article by the International Franchise Association titled “Top 10 Qualities of a Good Mentor.” They then began to list off different qualities that mentors should possess. The list is below and I have commented on each of the steps.
- “Willingness to share skills, knowledge, and expertise.”
If you find a mentor but they are unwilling to work with you and talk with you about improving yourself and your business, then they are not a good mentor. You need someone who is willing to help you and to share their past experiences with you.
- “Demonstrates a positive attitude and acts as a positive role model.”
Having a mentor with a negative attitude is just going to decrease your motivation. The business world is a difficult place. You need to keep up a positive attitude in order to make it through all the hardships that will come along. Find someone who will share your optimism and not bring you down.
- “Takes a personal interest in the mentoring relationship.”
You have to take a personal interest in something in order to actually improve at it. Giving only part of your attention to a project will just make for a bad project in the end. When creating a business, you have to put all of yourself and your effort into that business. Find a mentor who will do the same but with you as a person rather than with your business.
- “Exhibits enthusiasm in the field.”
If someone is not happy with the field they are in, then they are not going to want to do their jobs to the best of their ability. A mentor should be someone who is passionate about the field they’ve chosen and happy that they are in it.
- “Values ongoing learning and growth in the field.”
A person with poor values will not give you the proper advice you need when beginning a business. They will encourage you to do things that might not seem legal or the proper way of going about starting a business. Make sure when finding a mentor that shares your ethics and morals.
- “Provides guidance and constructive feedback.”
If someone only puts you down when you’re trying to fight your way through the business world with your new business, then they will not be helpful to you in the long run. Find someone who will criticize you constructively.
- “Respected by colleagues and employees in all levels of the organization.”
Those who do not respect others will not be the example you want when trying to start a business. A good mentor should appreciate all of the jobs that go into forming a business, not just the ones on his/her level.
- “Sets and meets ongoing personal and professional goals.”
If your mentor is someone who sets goals but never meets them, that is not going to be very helpful when you’re trying to meet all the goals of starting a business. Find someone who will hold you accountable for the goals you set.
- “Values the opinions and initiatives of others.”
Getting advice from others is always important. They may have different experience than you which may help you on your way. If your mentor does not understand the importance of taking advice form others, then they are not a good mentor.
- “Motivates others by setting a good example.”
Of course your mentor should be someone who sets a good example for everyone. If they slack off during work then how are they going to encourage you to do well when starting a business?
Finding a good mentor is one of the most important things in any part of life. They will help you through many hardships. Now that I know what to look for in a good mentor, I am ready to go our and find one.