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MENTORS: A YOUNG ENTREPRENUR’S SECRET WEAPON
You need a good idea. Startup cash can make a real difference. Business experience and savvy also help, of course. But to take advantage of the most powerful weapon an entrepreneur can have, find a mentor.
A good mentor helps you think through a business idea, suggests ways to generate that startup capital and provides the experience and savvy you’re missing. You’ll get praise when you deserve it and a heads-up when trouble comes -- probably long before you would have noticed it yourself.
Here are eight tips to getting the right mentor -- or group of mentors -- for you:
1. Determine your needs. Build a wish list for your mentor -- laying out what skills and support you need to get to the next step.
2. Take time to network. Networking isn't just important for finding customers. It’s also vital for finding a mentor No, you want someone who’s out there, knows the market and can point you in the right direction.
3. Listen more, talk less. But to find a mentor, you need to listen -- a lot. Pay attention and you‘ll be able to separate the smart potential mentors from those who just use all the right words
4. Be "mentorable." If you come off as someone who knows everything -- or thinks you do -- many people will back away. If you want to learn, be willing to consider ideas that may not match your expectations or opinions.
5. Remain flexible. You may have mentors who stay with you over the long haul, but you will also benefit from people who provide just an afternoon of insightful ideas.
6. Don't overlook non-traditional mentors. Some mentors may help you without their knowledge through books, seminars, speeches, videos on Ted, TV programs and the internet.
7. Thank your mentors. Think about what you can do to let them know how much you appreciate them and their help.
8. Pay it forward. You may never be able to pay your mentors back, but you can recognize what they’ve done for you by becoming a mentor to others.