This blog could be one of the most important pieces I have written as it touches on receiving mentorship from advisors, which is super important to accelerate learning and to give entrepreneurs the tools to be successful. I first got introduced to structured mentorship when I joined Accelerate Okanagan in 2012 and it changed the way I look at growing as a person forever.
Today, I am the founder of a business that is growing at quite the pace and innovating on the fly. The learning that comes with an opportunity like this is tremendous, but in order to remove stress, avoid indecision and build the confidence to run fast, you need to leverage your relationships with and over-communicate with a group of engaged advisors. I wanted to highlight the reasons I think advisors are so important, how you go about finding them and then lastly, how you extract value and build a strong relationship with your advisors.
First and foremost, everyone needs sounding boards
By building and maintaining strong relationships with advisors based on trust, entrepreneurs have access to amazing sound boards. Entrepreneurs can bounce ideas off advisors, reflect on failures, or get excited about opportunities. Thinking out loud can be so powerful.
Learn from mistakes previously made
Let's face it: very few things are being done for the first time these days. Find advisors who can help you avoid mistakes and can keep you on the right path.
Accelerate your business
Many advisors will have gone the path you are intending to go. They can help you look for opportunities and ultimately help you grow faster by following the paths they have seen work in the past.
It’s lonely as an entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur, very few people understand the stress you are under, the insecurities you have in yourself and the constant pressure that mounts. Finding advisors that have been there, can listen and most importantly help you understand that these feelings are normal, can make entrepreneurship feel so much less lonely.
What you should look for in an advisor:
Compatibility: Regardless of their experience, accolades, or knowledge of the space your business is in, you need to find advisors that are a match for you: someone who is a match in terms of energy, integrity, and approach to life and business. This will allow you to be open and honest at all times and, let’s face it, will allow both of you to enjoy the process of mentorship.
Experience: Depending on your goals for your mentors and advisors, you should be looking for a certain level of relevant experience that you feel can compliment you and your goals.
Engagement: You want to find an advisor that has the time to spend with you. It’s important to find people who are passionate about your mission and can find the time and energy to contribute.
Transparency: The first part of transparency is obvious. You need to be able to be transparent with your advisor so they can lend advice based on all of the knowledge you have. More importantly, is having transparency on what you want or need out of the advisor and maintaining an open dialogue on how your goals and needs are changing. Over the years, you will have various needs where you will seek other advice and or grow to spend time with other advisors. This is OK; it’s actually a really good sign. Either way, it’s important to have transparency with your advisor on what you are looking for and continued dialogue on whether the relationship is making sense for both sides. Don’t get stuck wasting either of your time if value is not being created.
Your Job With Advisors:
First of all, making a mentor or advisor relationship work takes effort from both sides. If you find you are continually putting in effort and time and getting nothing in return from an advisor, it’s time to move along for now.
Communication: The only way for a mentor or advisor to help you along is for them to be on the pulse of your challenges so they can add value to your dialogue. It is extremely important to over-communicate so your advisors can stay on the pulse and add value where they can.
Respect & Appreciation: In general, advisors or mentors are going to be people of a certain level of success or experience in your field. They’re usually busy, their schedules are tight and their time is valuable. It is your job to be respectful of their time and appreciate their effort, as most mentors are advisors and are not being compensated other than seeing you grow. Be diligent in setting an agenda with your advisors, make the best use of their time and always appreciate their support.
Whether it be sports, school, your relationship or your business, having a sounding board is important. If you are setting out on the path to find an advisor or advisors, you need to take it seriously. Like anything, you will need to focus on what you are trying to achieve, the kinds of people you think can help, how you will get them excited about helping you, and then lastly how you will work with them to extract mutual value from the relationship.
It's not an easy process, but it's something that can't be measured in terms of value. Anyone looking to better themselves and achieve their goals should be working with or hunting hard for mentors who can help them get there.
Love The Grind - Matty