Entrepreneurship can be downright frightening, especially for young entrepreneurs. Having an experienced mentor (like you!) can help ease someone's transition into the small business world, and you can help a young entrepreneur bring their ideas to life.
The best mentor-mentee relationships will benefit both parties. You'll offer the wisdom you've acquired from your experiences, and perhaps you'll even find some inspiration thanks to the newest, and possibly the youngest, member of your network. Here's how to make the most of this new relationship so that you can be an excellent and successful mentor.
Finding a young entrepreneur to mentor
You may already know a young entrepreneur that you'd like to mentor. But, if you don't, there are resources available that can pair you with a bright, motivated mentee. Micromentor.org is one option for matching mentors to mentees, and their easy-to-use website works like any other social networking tool.
If you'd prefer to stick to someone closer to your personal network simply make sure that people know you're open to becoming a mentor. Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and your business contacts may already know someone who could benefit from your knowledge. If you think you know someone who could use a mentor, don't be afraid to reach out, either.
Once you have a young entrepreneur you'd like to mentor be sure that both of you get the most out of this strategic business relationship.
Teach them the basics
While many young entrepreneurs are extremely intelligent, they might need some help learning more about basic business practices, especially in regards to finances. Did you have a solid understanding of money when you were young? It's likely that you didn't.
Ensure that your mentee knows that you don't have to spend excessively to succeed, and that budgeting is vital to growth. Help them figure out things like their fixed overhead costs and how much of their product or service they need to sell to meet those costs. Teach them about insurance, making sure there's enough money for taxes, and other important details that often get overlooked.
While you're at it, speak to them about bargaining. It's a helpful skill that will undoubtedly save them money throughout their career.
Be a consistent mentor
Young entrepreneurs need consistency. Before you establish a relationship ensure that you can spend enough quality time working with your potential mentee. Schedule regular meetings in-person or online, check in via email, and try to answer their questions in a timely manner.
You can even conduct regular surveys to get feedback about how the mentee feels about the relationship so that you can gauge whether your time together has been productive. You probably love having metrics and data for your business. Try to acquire it in this important business relationship, too.
Mentor with metrics
Speaking of metrics, it's important that you know how you're going to measure the success of this business relationship, both on an interpersonal level and a business level.
Requesting feedback from your mentee is one option, but you should also focus on the metrics of their business. Help them determine standards for profits, productivity, time, and other data points. Then, guide them toward achievement by holding them accountable every step of the way.
Learn from the person you're mentoring
As a mentor for a young entrepreneur you'll primarily be helping them navigate the world of starting and owning a business. But, you'll probably learn quite a bit from them, too. The business and technology realm is changing rapidly and there are always new innovations on the market. The person you're mentoring may very well have an arsenal of digital knowledge that you can apply to your own business.
The investors on the popular TV show Shark Tank know that they can learn a thing or two from the people they mentor. You can, too.