Who Are Startup Mentors and How To Find The Best One?

Nida Bohunr | December 15 2021

Taking the leap and initiating a startup takes courage. It takes special dedication and resilience to start from scratch and keep going till it reaches its zenith. But there’s no rule in the startup world that says you have to go it alone. While the need to do everything, yourself seems like the only way to get it right, there is a wealth of information and experience startup mentors offer that can change the trajectory of your initial years.

Startup mentors provide more than just knowledge. At Monily, we provide a great support system for the rough times, and help you find ways to navigate uncharted territory with our one-on-one expert support. We also have access to a large network of mentors and contacts in your relevant industry that could be invaluable to you.

But startup mentors are also human and you click with some while some might not be your cup of tea. So, how do you find the mentor that is best for you and your startup?


Who Are Startup Mentors?


Like the word suggests, startup mentors are successful industry leaders with years of experience and a string of successful ventures under their belt. They’ve managed to get into the startup world and made a resounding success of it, so much so that they are the ones to watch for changing market trends.

To be able to pick their brains is a golden opportunity for anyone starting out. Many would pay an arm and a leg for the chance, but startup mentorship is like a relationship and is usually done pro bono or for a nominal fee. Startup mentors help identify areas of mentees’ skills and the promising features of their startup businesses.

Startup mentors can help you realize your strengths and keep you focused and on-task. They are a mine of industry secrets, and when to wait and when to take the initiative. Like Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, startup mentors are guiding forces that can help turn a bad situation into a successful opportunity. It’s all about perspective, a bad review can be turned into a product upgrade or a chance for your startup’s customer service to shine. Startup mentors can help you see that.


How Do I Choose a Startup Mentor?


Famous mentor-mentee relationships in popular media make it look like they are a dime a dozen to find. The truth of it is a little different. The reason famous mentor-mentee relationships like Warren Buffet-Bill Gates and Larry Summers-Sheryl Sandberg are so famous is that they were perfect for each other. Buffet is a legend, but who’s to say he would have had the same influence on Sandburg’s career as he did on Gates’?

So what are the characteristics you should look for in a startup mentor?


Industry-Specific Expertise

When looking for a startup mentor, make sure that they have knowledge of your industry and have seen some success in it too. It always pays to know as much as you can about the industry you plan on conducting business in. Startup mentors know industry secrets, the ins and outs, and expected trends that you need to keep an eye out for.


Problem-Solving Jedi

At the start of your business journey, you’re going to need somebody who is great at problem-solving because even little things can seem like big obstacles. A steady hand, guiding you through the ups and downs, can be a blessing.


Wide Web of Connections

Connections are essential in any industry at any stage of the business. Startup mentors can help you connect with better companies on the supply chain, future collaborators and partnerships, other industry giants, and even potential clients.


An Action Man

Ideas are great but they hold little value if you can’t execute them into successful business ventures. Your startup mentor should be able to guide ideas into actions and help see them into reality.


Personal Preferences

1. Honesty – No beating about the bush. Get a mentor who is honest in their opinion and advice.

2. Similar interests – Having similar interests helps the mentor-mentee relationship develop and go forward.

3. Similar goals – A mentor can’t help you if they don’t understand or share your goals. They might not give you suggestions or advice for goals that they don’t have for their own business.

4. A friendship – The relationship needs to have the spark of friendship to be long-lasting and sincere.


How Do I Find a Mentor For My Startup?


So, you’ve decided you need a startup mentor, but how do you go about finding one? There are many ways you can find a startup mentor.


Incubators and Accelerators

Incubator and accelerator programs are a great place to find your startup mentor. The process is designed to provide startups with access to professional advice, funding, and an environment that can help them nurture and grow.


Online Platforms

Online platforms such as LinkedIn, US Small Business Administration, Find a Mentor, etc. are also great places where you can interact with industry leaders and seek mentorship.


Startup Events

Keep an eye out for any startup events in your area. This will help you make connections, network, and get in touch with mentors who are close by.


Professional Organizations

Professional organizations like Monily provide mentorship and financial advice to startups so they can manage the business end of things with ease.


What Should I Ask a Startup Mentor?


What you choose to ask a startup mentor depends heavily on where you are on your startup journey. But, some of the most broad-stroke questions allow you to cast a wider net to catch as much information as you can.


Some of them are:

– How can I best reach my goals?

– What could I be doing better or more efficiently?

– What’s the best advice you can give to help plan a career, other than working to keep a job?

– How can one encourage innovative ideas?

– What is the best use of my time?


One of the best pieces of advice we got from our mentor was to concentrate on our strengths when starting out. Startups are put together with a lot of passion and a central idea. At Monily, we help startups focus on their idea and bring it to life, while we handle the financial nitty-gritty. From accounting and bookkeeping, to tax advisory and foiling, Monily does it all.

See Also: Why Every Startup Should Consider a Financial Advisor


Author Bio

A highly skilled accounting professional at Monily, having extensive and diverse experience of working in US healthcare and agriculture industry. Nida is a CA finalist with expertise in Bookkeeping, Auditing, Bank Liaison, Tax Preparation, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable.