Ever feel like a Jack of all trades and master of none? You're not alone. Unlike a traditional job where you get to concentrate on specific tasks each day, the skills demanded of entrepreneurs are wide and varied. From liquidity ratios to search engine optimization to employee contracts, entrepreneurs must know a little about a lot.
One of the smartest moves you can make early in your startup career is to recruit talented mentors and advisors. The benefits of working with mentors and advisors are clear: they will fill in gaps of knowledge, lend their expertise, share contacts, add professional and personal support and free you to manage the business.
Defining mentors and advisors
A mentor is someone willing to teach you what they've learned from building a successful business or career. An advisor (or consultant) will share specific insights based on past experience or education. (Although we're not discussing it here, for the record, a business coach is someone who motivates you to reach your expressed goals).
A mentor is typically unpaid. An advisor usually receives compensation.
Recruiting a mentor
With a mentor you'll benefit from the thoughts and experiences of a seasoned businessperson. Mentoring is very helpful for entrepreneurs who are capable in skills but seek extra assistance in other areas.
Start by writing a job description for the type of mentor you seek. Treat your mentor search like an employee search; your investment in time and energy in this person will be considerable and is therefore valuable. Clearly describe the background, personality and availability of your ideal mentor candidate. List some of the things you want from a mentor, such as:
• Minimum 10 years' management experience in the retail industry;
• Holds an MBA;
• Launched and grew an e-store operation to annual sales of $5 million;
• Expertise on margins, pricing and inventory turnover;
• Available for a monthly one-hour call and quarterly meetings;
• Willing to introduce me to their professional network.