“Can you mentor me..?”

Lessons from my Entrepreneurial Journey #12

HealthMacro turns 4 this month. This post is dedicated to all those who have in some way or other mentored or advised me in my entrepreneurial journey.

I have been fortunate enough to have a wide range of people who have helped me through their guidance at times. Some of these have been important decisions.

As a technology person, I initially lacked expertise in finance, legal, fundraising and other matters. I would reach out to people who were experts, seek their views and get different perspectives.

Few ground rules:

  • Firstly, build trust by being transparent of your challenges.
  • A successful entrepreneur mentoring you is no guarantee of your success.
  • Your failure doesn’t reflect on your mentor’s abilities. He/she can only guide you. You have to execute.
  • It’s up to you to derive the best out of this relationship. You need to be clear what help you want from your mentor.

Mentors come in various forms:

  • Some of them come over as formal Advisors to the Co, the others due to their bandwidth challenges help you informally at appropriate times.
  • Sometimes I have learnt a lot through our vendors.
  • Few people I have met just once, but learnt a lot from those interactions.
  • Customers are your best mentors.
  • When some mentors are not reachable, I learn more reading their blogs and listening to them at events.

Why do you need a mentor?

  • Get a different perspective on a problem.
  • Someone who serves as your bouncing board for ideas.
  • Honest opinion on what to do next.
  • Industry level connections.
  • Connections to possible hires /investors.

Possible traits of a mentor:

  • Curious and learns from you as well.
  • Been there, done that person.
  • Expertise in certain domains.
  • Well networked person.

Who is a good mentor?

  • I earlier used to think that mentor is someone who is senior to me or has tons of experience, but I later realised that sometimes people several years younger than me, have good ideas and helped.
  • Always have a wide range of people who should be your sounding board.

Few Dos and Don’ts:

  • Good mentors usually will be advising at least a few startups. Do not approach them to be your mentor. Just state that you need some feedback on your idea and get it. Asking them to become your mentor may even scare some people!
  • Build connections and show progress to possible mentor before asking them to be your mentor. Remember people like to mentor only possible successful people. Why would someone waste time on who they believe may not succeed?
  • Everyone is busy and time is key. Ensure easy operating mechanisms to be connected and make progress.

In Summary:

  • Mentors come in various forms. Be open to receiving guidance.
  • Just 1 mentor is not good enough in this entrepreneurial journey. Seek more to enrich your growth.

Thanks to all mentors who have helped me in this journey…

This is the twelfth part of a series by the author. Find the previous post here.

Diagnostic Lab Software

[About the Author: Shashi Bhushan is the Founder & CEO of HealthMacro Technologies. He plunged into entrepreneurship to explore his dream of building something that touches people’s lives. HealthMacro were TiE’s AnthahPrerana2013 winners. He can be followed on twitter at @ShashiBhushanHR]