Mentors are one of the most valuable resources an entrepreneur can tap into. They can push you out of your comfort zone and seek out new experiences. Mentors can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. They can also save you from having to learn lessons in the business world the hard way.
Finding a mentor that is a good fit for you can be challenging and once you have found one the challenge is not over. Getting as much value as possible out of your mentor is paramount. Their time is valuable and the best way to demonstrate your gratitude and respect is to be prepared for each meeting you have with your mentor. At Remarkable, Tim Prosser and Kate Jenkins are two of our mentors. We asked Tim, Kate and Ben Reid (our Entrepreneur in Residence) to share their top mentoring tips for startups in order to get the best outcome possible out of the mentor-mentee relationship.
Tim Prosser is an experienced IT consultant with more than twenty years of experience supporting C-suite executives and teams in the Information Technology industry. He helps clients extract the maximum value from their technology. At Remarkable he helps our founders to create the maximum value for their startups. Here are some of Tim’s top points on mentor relationships:
What role do you play as a mentor?
“Our role is to listen and bring the unknowns out the shadows for your startup. There is a lot of rapport and empathy building. When invited, we offer advice, access to our networks. We don’t have answers to all the questions. Instead we offer advice on how to go about solving the problem and acquiring the knowledge necessary to do so.”
What is the best way to build a strong relationship with a mentor?
“Make sure you say thank you to the mentors and acknowledge that you’ve used their time and the insights provided. Demonstrate gratitude – remember to thank mentors in all of your communications with them. This builds goodwill and long term relationships. Thank them in emails, over the phone, in meetings, at events etc. If you haven’t acted on their advice, that’s fine but it’s a good idea to communicate to them why you didn’t.”
Ben Reid is a well respected and sought after mentor having founded 3 companies and mentored, managed or co-run 5 accelerator programs and been lead mentor for 8 startups, as well as developing extensive product management during 20+ years of product building across enterprise, SME and startups. Here are some of Ben’s top tips on selecting and working with mentors:
How should one go about selecting a mentor?
“The right mentor is a balance of a ‘Skills & Experience Fit’ and a ‘Cultural & Personality Fit’. The time that they have available & their willingness to contribute also comes into play.’
How should entrepreneurs get the best results possible from mentors?
“Have two mentors in a conversation. You could get a better outcome because they are competing with each other – healthy competition of course!”
Do mentors know best?
“Mentors don’t have all the answers or always get it right but in saying that, if you hear multiple mentors in a row saying something, there’s a good chance they are right. Look for the patterns in their advice.”
Kate Jenkins is the Founder of Be Your Brand and has more than 15 years experience leading award-winning campaigns for major brands such as British Airways, Singapore Airlines and the Sydney Opera House. Kate is happy to share her insights and learnings from working in with big brands to help the Remarkable startups to think big. Here are a few of her tips on making the most of mentor meetings.
How should one prepare for a meeting with a mentor?
“Know the mentor. You can stand out from 95% of other startups by doing your background research on the mentor before you meet them. Do a quick search of their LinkedIn and latest tweets and check out their businesses.”
What is the best way to start a conversation with a mentor?
“Always provide context of what you’re up to. We’re not living your startup day in and day out, so you need to brief us at the beginning of each meeting reminding us of your business of what you are up to in your journey. Keep mentors in the loop on what you’re up and your successes – they will be your biggest advocates at the end of the day.”
While mentors love to share their experience, no one likes to waste time. By choosing the right mentor and ensuring that you come to mentor meetings prepared you will both get more out of the mentor-mentee relationship. Always remember to say thank you and even give them credit when possible. Our mentor network is made up of a truly incredible group of passionate people. They are a big part of what makes us Remarkable.