As a new entrepreneur, I often hear how important it is to find and hire a great business mentor. Ideally, a magical individual is out there who has already built successful businesses. This person is willing to teach you the secret of their success for a fee, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars a month.
After months of searching for business mentors, interviewing a few, and reading A LOT of books that discuss mentorship, I have formed a few opinions on the importance of finding and paying for a mentor. I realize some might disagree, but at this point in the process, I do not think it is wise to invest in mentorship when you first start a business.
Why investing in a business mentor is not necessary:
- Answers to all your questions already exist online. Do you need to figure something out? Not sure where to start? Google the answer. (Or try Ecosia, where your searches plant trees.) If you feel the need to run to a mentor to figure out how to create an LLC, track expenses, hire employees, or invoice customers, should you be starting a business? MANY hurdles will come up during the business creation process and relying on a mentor can be an unnecessary time-sucking crutch. If you find yourself feeling indecisive about anything, do a little research, invest in an inexpensive Udemy course, and at the end of the day, trust your instincts.
- No single individual can provide you with all the insights you’ll need. For hundreds of years, intelligent, generous souls have taken the time to share their wisdom, failures, successes, and experiences in books. More recently, successful business people have started to share advice on blogs, YouTube channels, podcasts, and email newsletters. Best of all, this advice is usually inexpensive or free. For example, I thoroughly enjoy listening to podcasts like the Mindset Mentor, the Marie Forleo Podcast, and Marketing School. I love reading books like Everything is Figureoutable, Big Magic, The 1-Page Marketing Plan, Start with Why, She Means Business, and Take the Stairs. Successful people have likely already shared all the advice and knowledge you will ever need to start a business. One mentor is unlikely to possess all of that information.
- Motivation must come from within. If you’re considering investing in a mentor to help you get off the couch and motivate you to work on your business, I suggest you dig a little deeper. Why do you want to start a business? Who do you want to help, or what cause do you want to get involved in? Even if your motivations are more selfish in nature like you want to spend more time with your kids, take extended vacations, or create a more flexible schedule, that is okay. Keep your why front and center, and you can keep the fire burning within with or without a mentor. A business mentor or coach can hold you accountable and help motivate you, but ultimately, you will need to learn how to do that yourself.
Are you still considering hiring a mentor? Just do it.
If you are still on the fence about finding a mentor, it’s always been my philosophy to try everything once. If, after the experience, you decide you no longer want to move forward with a mentor, at least you gave it a shot.
A friend recently told me that several nonprofits exist where successful business people volunteer to mentor new business owners. After a quick search, I found Score, a team of over 10,000 volunteer business mentors ready to help small businesses survive and thrive. I spoke to a very nice gentleman once, and I plan to talk to him again next month. While I don’t think he will solve all my problems, no man or woman is an island. We need each other. Sometimes an outside, neutral individual can bring a fresh perspective to the table. So, we’ll see how this goes!
What are your thoughts about hiring a business mentor?