It takes a village: Why multiple mentors might be the key to a thriving start-up
Entrepreneurs can grow faster and better with more than one mentor, according to Jon Bebo, a management consultant and international start-up mentor.
Bebo told StartupSmart entrepreneurs need to seek a variety of mentors suited to their needs and the stage of their business.
“It often takes a village to get a company off the ground,” he says.
“The type of support the entrepreneur should seek will depend on what stage they’re at in the cycle. At the very start, entrepreneurs might seek mentors that can help with product-market fit or how best to tell their story in a pitch.
“Later on, mentors with greater specific domain expertise come into play, depending on the challenges the entrepreneur is facing at the time.”
Bebo coordinated a “Mentor Relay” via telecast from Silicon Valley at the Melbourne Launch48 start-up event over the weekend.
“All start-up ideas change as the company develops, but by holding this interaction early in the weekend, Launch 48 makes sure they get maximum impact from their mentors,” says Bebo, who adds early stage mentoring and feedback is key.
Join the community to connect to possible mentors
Taking part in start-up weekends, incubators and co-working spaces is the easiest way to meet a variety of possible mentors, Bebo says.
“In terms of finding a mentor, the best way is to join in. All put you in the right environment to meet a whole variety of potential mentors and people who can support your project.”
Put the work in to connect with the right mentor
Bebo says it pays to do your homework before approaching possible mentors.
“It takes five minutes to look at a mentor’s LinkedIn profile so you can explain in your introductory email why you want to talk to that person. Sometimes, it helps to ask for help on a specific question first and then see if the relationship develops naturally into a mentoring one.”
Remember your mentor is human too
“Don’t expect a mentor to necessarily have all the answers, or to be right. Remember that you will have spent days and weeks thinking through your idea, so the mentor won’t necessarily grasp the details as well as you do,” Bebo says.
“Ultimately, launching a start-up is about testing your assumptions as quickly and as cheaply as possible, and mentors can be invaluable in doing that.”