Successful entrepreneurs know the importance of surrounding themselves with a great team, not just the form of their paid employees, but on their company’s board of directors and in less formal mentorships surrounding their businesses. Being able to pick up the phone and ask for advice from a trusted mentor is invaluable in making key decisions in any business.
What kinds of mentors should you have? Every entrepreneur should have a bevy of mentors and advisors to lean on when issues arise. These three will be key to the success of your business.
1. The Horizontal Mentor
Often, we think of mentorship as an older or more established individual mentoring someone new to the business. While these kinds of mentorships are valuable, you must also find a mentor who is a peer -- a horizontal mentor, if you will. Look for an entrepreneur whose business started at the same time yours did, who might be encountering the same challenges and want a peer mentor to work through them together.
2. The Five-Year Goal Mentor
Where do you want your business to be in five years? Perhaps you hope to be venture-capital funded at that time, to have a certain number of employees, or to have conquered specific geographic markets. Look for a mentor entrepreneur whose business looks today the way you hope yours will look in five years. Ask that individual for advice on the path he or she took to get there.
3. The Legacy Mentor
Entrepreneurs are asked constantly about their business’ exit strategy. What is the ultimate goal for your business? Selling it to a larger company? Taking the company public? Leaving it to your children? As you think about these kinds of questions, you’ll also want to find a mentor who has accomplished the same legacy in his or her business that you are seeking in yours. If you want to sell your company in 10 to 15 years, find a successful entrepreneur who has been through the process. It may be that you’ll change your mind about your exit strategy, but having a mentor who can guide you through the options well in advance of decision-making time will be incredibly valuable.
Marcy Twete is the founder/CEO of Career Girl Network and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works," to be released in summer 2013.