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How to find, and choose, the ideal mentor for you

Whether you are a young entrepreneur, have years of corporate experience and are now starting afresh or are a seasoned entrepreneur, it is always a wise decision to surround yourself with a good support network.

Mentors can be one of the most powerful weapons for an entrepreneur by providing guidance, wisdom and connections," said Lourdes Martin-Rosa, American Express OPEN adviser on government contracting and mentor for the OPEN Mentorship Institute program. 

"Every entrepreneur should have a mentor for obtaining the best answers to his or her daily challenges during startup and management." 

Whatever your business experience or position, it is always a wise decision to surround yourself with a good support network. This can be friends and family however it is likely the role of mentor will be filled from outside this circle. 

The relationship between a mentor and mentee is based on a mutual understanding of the process and of course, trust. A good mentor can be a sounding board, they can give you insider market knowledge, facilitate beneficial introductions and should be a motivator. A good mentor can help you develop a roadmap for your business that targets success. 

However, with so many potential mentors available how do you find the one that is the perfect fit for you? 

Many people look for mentors from their own business arena, quite rightly they can understand your market and challenges more easily, however a good mentor/mentee relationship doesn’t necessarily have to come from your own industry to be beneficial eg A Marketer found a great mentor in the Business Leader of a plastics firm. Totally different markets, however they shared the same values for leadership and management. 

Speak to the Economic Development Officer at your local council, your regional Local Enterprise Partnership, your Chamber of Commerce or even ask the question on the Connect Forum at on where you can locate a mentor. Your goal at this stage has to be to give yourself options. 

Meet as many individuals as you can and treat the process as an interview. You don’t have to select the first person you meet or speak to. It is vital you like and respect the person you have chosen to be your mentor. Bear in mind that you can have more than one mentor, each mentor will bring something different to the table, providing you with a more rounded view for your business. 

Above all else, you need a mentor who is open, honest, happy to share their knowledge, and truly wants to help you.

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