When I ask entrepreneurs how I can help them, mentoring comes up with regularity. After their need for funding, mentoring is likely their second highest priority. But great mentors with relevant experience and time to spare are likely as hard to find as those elusive venture capital dollars. So what is a new entrepreneur to do?
For starters, they should think differently about how to learn and “get mentored.”
Misti Cain, founder and “Chief Advyzzor” of whyzze.com, a place for people, brands and startups to go to anytime they need guidance, motivation, assurance, or personal, professional or creative advice, said:
The world is changing, innovating and growing at a rapid pace. With so much to learn from so many people, you won’t be able to grow with it if you don’t change your perspective on mentoring.
A new kind of mentoring
It’s important to remember that mentoring doesn’t have to be a 1:1 arrangement or a lifelong commitment — and it surely doesn’t have to only occur over coffee. By taking a new approach to being mentored, Cain has unlocked the valuable insights of influential, hard-to-reach mentors.
She defines a mentor as a “person or resource with more experience, knowledge and success who guides, trains or teaches someone who is less experienced or less successful.”
Based on this understanding, Cain chooses which of her business goals or challenges needs the assistance of an experienced mentor. From there she seeks out recommendations from people via networking or Facebook groups, books, blogs and podcasts. Cain keeps researching and devouring the insights of these newly found “mentors” through all the available sources, without awkwardly asking someone to “be her mentor.” Her approach has another added benefit: she doesn’t have to wait on anyone else’s schedule to get sound mentoring advice — and it works.
Finding mentors online
Cain finds her mentors online. By listening to an episode of the ReplyAll podcast from Gimlet Media, Misti eliminated any remaining doubts on whether her latest venture would be something people wanted. Her site whyzze.com is a subscription site for personal, professional and creative advice. An episode on the Mixergy podcast with Dan Norris (founder of WP Curve) helped her crack her own subscription service business model, and Norris’ payment gateway experience with Stripe helped Cain decide on how to build her website.
To kickstart the mentoring for your business using Misti’s approach, listen in and take notes from these dream mentors:
- Interview with entrepreneur Anil Dash on The Intern.
- Insights from BBG Ventures’ Susan Lyne on BroadMic.
- Guidance from pioneering social entrepreneur Daniel Lubetzky, founder of KIND on iTunes.
- Subscribe to Truly Social with Tara on YouTube to get social media guru Tara Hunt’s insights every Sunday.
- Join the WE Festival community to get real-time mentoring each week during their hourly “Slack Off” (WE Festival has a private slack community that offers weekly Q&A with accomplished entrepreneurs and investors).
- Get mentoring advice and information ranging from startup culture to productivity, workplaces and wellbeing here on turnstone’s blog.