Earlier this week I wrote about having (or not having) a co-founder / business partner. Once you’ve figured that piece out, the next step would be making sure you have solid advice from people not working in your company.
My belief is, no matter who you are, you can always use a few good mentors in your life. I’ve always benefited from such people and still do today. The two main components: who do you ask, and how do you work with them.
In terms of who you should consider as a mentor, think about what your goal is. Are you looking for a sounding board in general? Do you need someone who has experience in your field to learn from? Do you need someone who has built great cultures? Great businesses? Done great work in the community? Make sure its someone you respect and admire.
David Cummings writes on his blog about mentorship, and he lists these great steps to making a mentorship relationship work:
- Design a rhythm of interaction (e.g. a bi-monthly lunch or quarterly phone call)
- Outline the goals and metrics both parties care about
- Consider overall commitment period (e.g. let’s try this for a year and re-evaluate)
- Look for coordinated mentoring arrangements in a professional group (e.g. YPO has a program with mentors from WPO)
Make sure to pick a mentor that you actually admire ;)
When it comes to advisory boards, I’m a big fan. But, I think an entrepreneur needs to be careful about how and when they create an advisory board. You need to make sure that your business is at a point that it needs a group of people to get advice from, and you need to be in a place that you can organize and run an effective advisory board.
Choosing an advisory board is the first step. After that, you need to decide on how often makes sense to meet with them. You should meet no less than twice a year, and no more than four times a year. Meetings should be well planned out and organized, and usually around two hours. Work with your advisory board members to find the right time for the meetings (usually I’ve done them at night, over dinner).
Advisory boards and mentors can make a real difference in your life, both personally and professionally.