Startup founders: How to find the right mentor
Nice piece in TechRepublic about how to find the right mentor:
And I’m not just saying that because the author quoted me in it. 🙂
Two additional thoughts that didn’t make it into the final cut:
Advice, Connections, or Credibility? Mentors can bring one or more of these three benefits to the table. What you need most will direct your search. Bear in mind that the senior guy at company X who looks awesome on the Team slide may not have time for much more than sharing some vague, but enthusiastic endorsement of your company if asked. Someone more junior may be more likely willing and able to put in the hours it takes to give worthy advice and direction. And while pure corporate types often just don’t understand the ‘startup’ side of the equation enough to advise properly, they can be excellent connectors.
Mentor or Consultant? Don’t mistake the need for expertise with the need for a mentor. Ask yourself this: What will I talk about with this guy in six months? If you come up blank, he’s probably not a mentor. For instance, if you need to speak to an Information Architecture expert about what tech stack to build on, just pay for a one-time consult outright (or beg a free meeting over lunch) rather than to give away part of your company. Similarly, the master sales / biz dev guru who can get you those critical first customers isn’t really a Connector. You can often compensate him with a percentage of all revenue he generates and (if necessary) a small monthly retainer and save the equity for a true mentor.