Business can’t be a one-man show, especially young entrepreneurs having the desire to prove their worth. At different junctures of business, the entrepreneur may feel the need to seek advice, discuss their vision, and receive suggestions and guidance in decision-making. Most of the renowned companies have experts on-board to guide them through the ups and downs of business. An Advisory Board or a Board of Directors may serve the role of mentor and advisor, with both parties having professional obligations to each other. This article takes us into a brief insight of who an expert, advisor and mentor are? How do they differ from each other? Where their services can be best employed by an entrepreneur? How best an entrepreneur can engage productively with each of them at different stages of business? Where to look out to hire them and how? Finding and understanding answers to these questions would help a budding entrepreneur take his ship of business to a voyage successfully.
Expert, Advisor, Pyramid search, Mentor, Mentee, SCORE, TED talks, Veterans Business Outreach Centres.
At a Glance
- Experts: Leveraging the knowledge
- What qualities to look for in an expert?
- How to find an expert?
- Advisor: A formal well-wisher
- Types of Advisors
- How to find an advisor?
- Maintaining Relationship With An Advisor: A Balancing Act
- How to compensate an advisor?
- Mentor: An informal partner in success/All packed into one
- Expected qualities of a mentor
- Where to find a mentor?
- How to choose a mentor?
- Mentor and Mentee Relationship: A Perfect Match
- Well known mentoring relationships of celebrities
- Government Sponsored Mentor Organizations
- Online solutions for mentoring
Those who watched the Hollywood blockbuster, Kung Fu Panda, can figure out how mentors can impact our lives, provide inspiration, motivate and guide us to move towards the right direction to help accomplish our business goals.
Though the terms expert, mentor, advisor depict overlapping actions, there is a minute delineation in their specificity, which an entrepreneur needs to understand. Utilizing their guidance at appropriate stages of business could facilitate a hassle-free journey for an entrepreneur.
“An expert may/may not be a good advisor.” Similarly, “An expert and a good advisor may/may not be a mentor.”
As a budding entrepreneur, are you looking forward to creating an Android-based app to keep track of calorie intake that could be pragmatic to all fitness freaks? To kick start anything is not that easy, the journey for this idea to turn into reality desires an efficacious team including an expert, advisor and mentor that probably might include the following members. To find anything in today’s digital world is not a big deal if we have access to a computer and an internet connection. One easily accessible source could be LinkedIn, research for finding experts/advisors/mentors with desired expertise, check leverage for referrals and request for introductions. Plan for a couple of formal and informal meetings, check for the credibility of relationship over a long run. If everything seems to be prosperous from both the ends, enter into a legal contract successfully.
Experts: Leveraging the knowledge
An expert is a professional who has acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge in a particular domain, has valuable work experience, and researched the subject over a period of years. Expertise is a practical implementation of an expert’s knowledge and skill to achieve success in business. An expert’s opinion, when used in legal expertise, should be persuasive in the development of an entrepreneur.
Two types of experts can be recognized, one being an academic expert and the other practical expert. Nevertheless, entrepreneurs are practical experts, using their skills to solve problems by innovating new paths unlike those chosen by other entrepreneurs.
What qualities to look for in an expert?
An expert should cherish their subject, and with a different perspective of viewing the subject. They should be eager to discover new knowledge and techniques, introduce new concepts, expand the knowledge, and practice the application of knowledge. Active involvement in speeches, discussions and any awards recognizing their contribution to the subject would be an added feather in the cap.
How to find an expert?
Harvard business review has identified “Pyramid search”, a unique pattern to find an expert from the analogous domain without much loss of time.
A brief procedure to be followed in pyramid search to find an expert would be:
Advisor: A formal well-wisher
An advisor is a person who has a profound knowledge in a particular domain, and is versatile in displaying expertise in interdisciplinary domains such as investments, expands networks and social media security. An advisor could be a trustworthy expert willing to advise in the weaker areas of business, in addition to complimenting the strength of the entrepreneur seeking advice.
Advisors can be formal or informal.
Types of Advisors
Expert advisors: Experts providing advice on problems in the subject involving various areas of expertise such as marketing, sales, accounting, technology and human resources.
Connected advisors: Individuals who can help young entrepreneurs expand their network with experienced and successful entrepreneurs belonging to the same industry.
Analogous advisors: Experts from other domains as their advice is really valuable in identifying hidden issues that go unnoticed by entrepreneurs from the same industry.
Emotional advisors: People, who can keep the young entrepreneur’s concentration focused, boost the confidence and keep them on the right track.
How To Find An Advisor?
Maintaining Relationship With An Advisor: A Balancing Act
Hiring an advisor could be a burden to a young entrepreneur financially, however engaging the advisor in an appropriate area, utilizing services purposefully could build a relationship useful for business. There should be regular meetings to keep a track of the progress. Nevertheless, an advisor cannot always fully understand the vision, functioning and goals of the business identical to the one entrepreneur possess. So, it is wise for the entrepreneur not to follow blindly the advice, but to make improvisations and apply that advice for the growth of the business. In case, friction develops in the relationship, it is advisable to identify and terminate the issues as early as possible.
How to compensate an advisor?
Both parties, the entrepreneur and advisor, should enter into a written legal agreement describing the expected outcome from an advisor, charges for the services, either in cash or equity on a monthly or daily basis and ownership of intellectual property created during the project. The agreement must be flexible to amend changes along with the procedure to terminate the relationship.
Mentor: An informal partner in success/All packed into one
A mentor could be a person who achieved success in the path identical to the one chosen by the mentee. A mentor focuses, guides, and supports both the personal and professional progress of the mentee.
The word mentor was first mentioned by Homer in his book “Odyssey”, a Greek mythology. Mentor, a friend of Ulysses, was appointed to watch over, guide, and instruct Telemachus, son of Ulysses. Mentor, in general, sense embraces the similar relationship with the mentee.
A mentor contributes to the success of an entrepreneur by minimizing the mistakes likely to be made, on the verge of procreating company’s progress quickly. Nonetheless, a mentee should not aimlessly follow the advice to become the second version of the mentor. The real acknowledgement would be acceptance of mentor’s ideas, improvisation and implementation in the mentee’s approach to accomplishing success in the desired path.
Expected qualities of a mentor
Experienced: Look for a person having expertise in the particular domain. For instance, an entrepreneur inclined to boost marketing and sales of a product should probe for a pioneer in market and sales strategies.
Equilibrium in failure and success: Anentrepreneur who encountered both failure and success in establishing a company has insight into the raw process of developing the company however with a track record of proven success.
Straight forward: A person who can provide unbiased, honest, unpolished version of truth and experience are beneficial towards growth and development of entrepreneur as a whole on both personal and professional aspect.
Parallel values: There would be many successful entrepreneurs who could be good mentors. However, it is important to recognize people who share the same vision we are looking forward to taking our company.
Where to find a mentor?
Identical domain: Request an interview with the most successful entrepreneurs in the domain; grasp the opportunity to seek answers to issues, to gather required information in a short time.
Conference and meetings: People having business interests would undeniably be interested in new concepts of entrepreneurs. Accordingly, attending meetings and conferences would provide us an opportunity to share ideas related to business.
Community events: The goal of attending community events is to frame a healthy relationship with startup organizations willing to help the entrepreneurs.
Business events: Usually business meetings especially chamber of commerce provides opportunities to contact many potential mentors, however, all mentors wouldn’t be accessible. So interact with as many mentors as possible and look for those one or two with whom we can connect.
Universities: Young profounder who recently graduated from colleges recognize the significance of mentorship and will desire to mentor anyone looking for advice.
Networking and startup programs: These programs would have all genres of entrepreneurs, founders who would be willing to extend guidance to fresh entrepreneurs. Interact with quite some businessmen, build up a network and gather information.
How to choose a mentor?
1.Understanding the mentoring requirements is the first step. You should determine what knowledge, skills and abilities you should possess, how a mentor’s experience could be utilized in achieving the short term goals?
2. Arrange a meeting with potential mentor.
3. Express honestly the need for mentorship in addressing specific issues of business and the exact reason for choosing him/her as a mentor and communicate each other’s goals.
4. Negotiate the terms and condition of the engagement and compensation.
Mentor and Mentee Relationship: A Perfect Match
Mentoring is a symbiotic relationship between two parties- a mentor, extremely successful and eminent person possessing extensive knowledge and experience to guide a mentee sharing common interests and knowledge in the same domain to accomplish their goals. A mentor will take pride in building the company, growth and prosperity.
The approach for a successful mentor and mentee relationship involves concepts such as:
Goal oriented: Before the commencement of the relationship, the mentee should communicate their goals to the mentor, specifically if associated with the promotion, securing funds, enhancing communication skills or resolve performance issues.
Procure advice: Mentee should bring to the notice of mentor, challenges or opportunities ahead of the entrepreneurship, roll out strategies to deal with them and request for advice.
Mutual trust: Trust is secured gradually using small deeds such as prompt appointments, sharing failure and success, positive attitude towards one another nevertheless respecting differences between each other.
Transparency: A mentor should render advice with honesty and without envy for the development and success of mentee.
Well known mentoring relationships of celebrities
- Oprah Winfrey, who was famous for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey show was mentored by an author and poet, Late Maya Angelou.
- Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook was mentored by former Apple CEO, Late Steve Jobs
- Connie Chung, first women co-anchor CBS evening news was a mentor to Kyung.B.Yoon, a reporter in Fox news.
Government Sponsored Mentor Organizations
The U.S. government came forward to fund organizations that provide free services for small and medium sized enterprises (SME). SCORE mentors is one such program through which an SME owner can receive free and confidential mentoring, advice and counseling from experienced executives, pioneers who have volunteered to support business and trade.
Small Business Development Centers provide assistance related to specific fields, probably in finance, information technology and marketing. Women business centers focus on the specific needs of women entrepreneurs.Veterans Business Outreach Centers provide training, counseling and mentoring to veterans requiring entrepreneurial development.
Online solutions for mentoring
TED talks: Technology, Entertainment and Design is a platform for sharing knowledge. It is owned by a non-profit, free-wheeling company possessing the basic desire to spread ideas involving all communities across the world such as science to business through small talks. TED talks could change the attitude and ultimately lives of people including young entrepreneurs.
TED partnerships is a unique program designed to bring together TED speakers, TED community and companies for making innovations. It is a potential place to find an expert, advisor and mentor for a young entrepreneur.
www.levo.com , www.mentoring.org , www. FindAMentor.com are examples of few websites who have registered experts from various areas of expertise available to start a conversation through online and clarify issues related to business.
Micromentor is a social network providing free services for entrepreneurs to connect with business mentors who have volunteered to support establishment and progress of small businesses.
The Final Takeaway
Every entrepreneur may feel the need to get a second opinion about certain business issues; and experts, advisors and mentors may be the ‘go-to’ people. The success and growth of entrepreneurs depend on the ability to utilize these resources at the right stages of business. You should not expect them to tell you what to do, but to guide you how to do it, because, after all, it’s your business. Even the mentors, experts, and advisors should not spoon-feed, rather, they should use their experience to show you the right direction.
Expert, advisors, and mentors are like the streetlamps; they don’t walk with you, but show you the path to walk.
- Adam Toren. Mentors: A Young Entrepreneur’s Secret Weapon. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/222694 Accessed on 26 November 2015.
- Rod Ebrahimi. Why Entrepreneurs Need Good Mentors. http://www.forbes.com/sites/rodebrahimi/2013/11/14/why-entrepreneurs-need-good-mentors/ Accessed on 26 November 2015.
- Victor Cheng. 3 Ways to Find Your Perfect Board of Advisors. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226561 Accessed on November 2015.
- https://www.eonetwork.org/why-join/eo-mentorship Accessed on 26 November 2015.
- http://www.jumpstartinc.org/entrepreneursupport/services/mentoring.aspx Accessed on 26 November 2015.
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