The most successful people in life all had one thing in common: They had someone to help them navigate their path. A mentor, a coach, a personal trainer, a teacher: Someone walked beside and ahead of them, helping them make their way.
If you were attempting an African safari, your most important decision would be who would lead you on your trek. Hopefully, you wouldn’t go online and do a search for “Cheap African safaris.” You also probably wouldn’t choose the guide with the best profile picture, the most Facebook friends, or the biggest safari hat.
How would you select your guide? Through reviews, referrals from friends, and possibly some interviews.
How you select your business mentor should be no less thorough. Don’t select someone just because they’re the “guru du jour,” or the dude that seems to be everywhere or has great on-screen presence. Sure, it’s great to be hot, but there are other considerations to make sure you’re selecting the right guide for you. Here are some things to think about:
• Where is my business now, and what do I need to get to the next level?
• What specifically am I hoping this coach or mentor can help me achieve?
• How do I work best – with weekly check-ins, daily updates, monthly in-person calls?
• Do I need someone to give me “tough love” or be a sympathetic guiding presence?
Different coaches and mentors have different styles. Some are non-nonsense taskmasters; others have a more gentle approach. Some are great cheerleaders, while others are better technicians. Some are great connectors; others are in-the-trenches comrades. No style is right or wrong; there’s only “right” or “wrong” for you. If you need someone to help you figure out how to set up a website and online shopping cart, a cheerleader isn’t going to do you much good.
By the same token, if you need someone to inspire you and introduce you to potential JV partners, a well-connected “you can do it!” type may be perfect. No matter how nice, talented, or charismatic your coach is, a mismatch will cause you nothing but frustration.
To really move forward towards your goal, a mentor can be a perfect springboard, helping you move past obstacles and other blocks. But not all coaches are created equal: Find the one that matches your needs.