Question: What quality or skill should a first-time founder look for in a mentor?
Industry Knowledge and Connections
“A mentor should be someone who not only can give you objective feedback, but someone who can get you off the ground fast in the industry you are attacking. Look for a mentor who can provide industry insights and, more importantly, has the necessary connections to expand your network.” — Ryan O’Connell, LaunchKC
Time and Objectivity
“Motivated mentors are only great if they have the time to help when needed. I’m sure the President could be a great mentor, but he’d have no time for you. Schedule your chats. In your team, dedication is most important, but mentors are the outsiders looking in. They need to give you the viewpoint you don’t have. They have the distance to see the big picture.” — Ben Gamble, See Through
Heart of a Teacher and a Good Track Record
“Dave Ramsey said it best: don’t take advice from anyone who doesn’t have the heart of a teacher. If someone isn’t passionate about truly helping you, that’s a red flag right there. Secondly, don’t take advice from someone with a bad or no track record. Seek advice and mentorship from someone who is where you want to be.” — Steven Newlon, SYN3RGY Creative Group
“One thing to avoid in a mentor is a person who expects compensation and recognition for their time. Avoid these people like the plague. A true mentor will do it because they want to see you succeed, often because someone did the same for them. Your mentor should be critical and give honest feedback with the career experience that makes them one of your first phone calls when you need help.” — Julian Flores, GetOutfitted, Inc.
Passion for Your Business
“You can find someone who has all the relevant experience in the world, but if they don’t have a passion for what you’re doing, they won’t be very likely to help you. We have a mentor who has a lot of experience in tech, which isn’t relevant to what we do. But his passion and desire to learn about the food business has made him invaluable.” — Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli
Strong Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills
“A first-time founder will be confronted with all types of challenges that at times will feel overwhelming. Having a mentor who possesses strong analytic and problem-solving skills can be invaluable, as they can help ensure that you apply an intellectually sound approach to solving issues that you will invariably face as an inexperienced founder.” — Damian A. Clarke, DAC & Associates
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.
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