Our network

14 Best Ways to Find an Experienced Mentor | Business

Title (Max 100 Characters)

14 Best Ways to Find an Experienced Mentor
14 Best Ways to Find an Experienced Mentor


Name one piece of advice for getting an older or more experienced entrepreneur to mentor you.

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

1. Get a Warm Introduction

If there’s an entrepreneur you want to meet, getting a warm introduction is absolutely the best way to start a relationship. A friendly intro means you come well recommended by someone he already trusts, and that’s usually the biggest hump to get over in the beginning.

- Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

2. Be Valuable to the Mentor

Add value! Do not just approach someone and ask for help. I’ve noticed that many old school successful people struggle with emerging technologies, so a great approach would be to help them with their online or social strategies. This gets your foot in the door and sets a solid foundation for the relationship. This is exactly how I got my start with a distributor.

- Phil Laboon, Eyeflow Internet Marketing 

3. Be Careful

Many experienced entrepreneurs (myself included) are more than happy to give back to the entrepreneurial community through mentorship. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That said, you want to be careful when you sign on as a mentee. Be sure to set parameters of engagement so as not to overstep your bounds, and be respectful of any help that is generously provided. Don’t take it for granted.

- David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

4. Be Direct

Be direct, straightforward and respectful. More importantly, realize that being direct and straightforward is being respectful. Experienced entrepreneurs are busy (especially successful ones who are presumably the mentors you’re after). They’ll respect you for respecting their time. Be very succinct in your request. There’s nothing worse than a long-winded email asking for something.

- Danny Boice, Speek

5. Hire the Mentor

I’ve hired experienced entrepreneurial mentors, and it’s always paid off in spades. There’s just something that happens when you put money down to receive advice; you actually take the advice and implement it. It also shows the mentor you’re committed, and it helps them prioritize the time they spend with you so it doesn’t fall through the cracks.

- Nathalie Lussier, The Website Checkup Tool

6. Demonstrate Potential

Demonstrate your potential in an honest way; any experienced entrepreneur can see through bad intentions and selfish motives. Do your best to prove you’re worth his time and can offer a fulfilling experience for the both of you.

- Liam Martin, Staff.com

7. Be Specific

As you establish a relationship with anyone for help, begin it with a very specific question that he is well-positioned to help answer. Don’t start with a general get-to-know-you approach. Start specifically and start small, then once you’ve established a relationship, you can expand from there.

- Eric Koester, DCI

8. Ask Respectfully

That means do your homework before you ask, know why you’re asking, and approach that person from a place of gratitude. If that person has authored books or articles, read them. If he blogs or posts videos, make the time to immerse yourself in those. Then, when you reach out, you’re doing so from a place that respects both yourself and that potential mentor.

- Corey Blake, Round Table Companies

9. Ask for Five Minutes

I have a theory that you can get just about any entrepreneur to give you advice if you’re just asking for five minutes of her time. I approach entrepreneurs I admire with this request, and I often get a “yes.” When we do jump on the phone, I always have three questions prepped. I respect the five-minute time limit and say thank-you when time is up.

- Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World

10. Spend Time Together

Experienced entrepreneurs get asked for help all the time, and they’ve learned to decline quickly. Instead of a direct request, spend time with him in a non-work setting to get to know him and his personal interests. When you spend time with him as a friend instead of as someone who can help you grow your business, he’s likely to end up volunteering to be your mentor.

- Danny Wong, Blank Label Group

11. Show Your Knowledge

You have to show your potential mentor that you really understand the problem your startup addresses. A good mentor will be able help you work through those non-core areas of your business such as funding, marketing or human capital. But she needs to know that you’re the expert in your core field. That way, she can feel like she’s investing her time in a worthwhile venture.

- Erica Bell, Hukkster

12. Offer Equity

If you want someone older and wiser with a higher hourly billing rate to mentor you and give you full attention, you better make it worth his time. Giving even a small piece of your company’s equity shows you are serious and genuinely interested in learning from his advice.

- Michael Portman, Birds Barbershop

13. Have Experiences in Common

Seek out someone who could potentially see himself in you. Look for a mentor who has attended the same school, comes from a similar town or has a similar background. Maybe the similarity you’ll share is a passion within a certain field, or if nothing else, just sheer drive. If you can sell your story to inspire him, it’s likely that he’ll want to help you achieve success the way he did.

- Ben Rubenstein, Yodle

14. Find Similarities in Your Situation

People like working with people they like, and they tend to like people similar to them. Try to find similarities and common ground on which to build a relationship. You’d be surprised how similar they are to you and how they will understand the position you’re in because they’ve been in that position before.

- Andy Karuza, brandbuddee