This is part 3 of the 4 part series for achieving success in your entrepreneurial endeavors. The series was created by a business professional who draws from 40 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies and high-growth startups. He writes under the pen name J.T. Jamison and Barcinno will publish a new chapter in his series each Wednesday (hump day) during the month of March. If you missed part 1 of the series, please click here or if you missed part 2 of the series, please click here
Think about it. Whether it be marriage, family, teammates or business partnerships, every close and lasting relationship begins with friendship and the ability to understand each other. You may already have a great, close friendship with your primary mentor, but if you don’t, start out by taking the time to get to know the person…. and importantly, let them to truly get to know you fully. Not just what you want others to see in you or know about you, but a deeper more revealing open look at who you are, what your personal values and ambitions are. This should be approached as the beginning of a long personal friendship and working relationship. With this type of solid foundation, sharing the most difficult and challenging business topics regarding your start-up becomes truly possible.
How often should we meet? What should we discuss? What happens when we disagree? All are great questions and none have a cookie cutter, single answer, other than: “it depends.” But all the answers should have one thing in common, a commitment on the part of both parties that the communication be open and honest, regardless of the topic or result. The best meetings are face-to-face, long enough to cover the desired agenda and allowing time for other topics that may come up, but yet respectful of each individual’s other priorities. Discussions are usually more effective when meetings are regularly scheduled and the topic is known prior so each party can prepare a little. Telephone conversations are usually short and specific to a topic. Email messages are exchanged often enough so when you do meet face-to-face the time is not spent with a “data dump” of everything that happened since the last meeting leaving little time for true progress. It takes commitment and discipline by both parties to schedule and keep regular meetings a priority. But remember to “not be alone on the mountain”, you and your Sherpa need to constantly & effectively communicate and be there for each other.
Discussion topics will depend primarily on their level of importance and if it is something where your mentor or coach can truly add value. Goal setting, strategy development and key business milestones are all important areas that your advisor should be included in. Your mentor can greatly help with all things critical to the company’s primary direction. Also, in most cases, the mentor’s suggestions on the preparation for the most important business initiatives, sales or investor presentations or meetings are areas he should definitely be included. His insights will pay major dividends.
Starting a company is one of the most exciting, rewarding endeavors anyone can undertake. Like Mt. Everest, the learning curve is steep, but with a great mentor, you will learn more and faster than you would ever have expected. And making the successful journey with someone that is there 100% supporting you is one of the most rewarding events in both of your lives.
Stay tuned for next week, the final chapter: “How do I Compensate my Mentor?”