Why all startup founders need a mentor – StartupSmart

Did you know that 70% of business owners who use mentors will survive in business twice as long as those who don’t? Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship forged between a more experienced business person and someone who is less experienced to help them to achieve their goals and boost their morale. When undertaken effectively, it offers benefits to both parties, but it is first and foremost a supportive and encouraging relationship that focuses on the needs of the mentoree. With mentoring, the budding entrepreneur is guided and supported so they can reach their highest potential. For example, during his early days immersed in growing Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg consulted with mentor Sean Parker and was noted as saying: “Few people are as smart as he is.” The top benefits of having a mentor for your business include: Exposure to new ways of thinking A new perspective on challenges you’re facing Someone to ‘lend an ear’ when you need to vent or talk through your thought processes Advice on how to develop your strengths and overcome your weaknesses Strategies for growing your business An opportunity to gain knowledge and develop new skills The possibility of increased recognition and visibility within your industry through networking Increased confidence

Source: Why all startup founders need a mentor – StartupSmart

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Why More Entrepreneurs Should Seek Out Mentors

This is series is brought to you in partnership with the Consumer Technology Association (formerly the Consumer Electronics Association). You can read the rest of the series here. “Founders have a tendency to drink their own Kool-Aid and can convince themselves it tastes good when perhaps it needs more or less sugar,” described Invisionate founder and CEO George Stepancich when asked why he thinks it’s important for entrepreneurs to seek out mentors. An experienced entrepreneur and a mentor himself for the Consumer Technology Association’s Mentor Program, Stepancich knows all too well how crucial it is for entrepreneurs to have trusted advisors. Unfortunately, for some entrepreneurs, there’s this innate unwillingness to seek mentors – and this could hurt them in the long-run. The Myth of Entrepreneur Self-Reliance “The myth of the American entrepreneur is based on self-reliance: a single-minded obsession with a goal, with a bit of arrogance sprinkled on it,” said Paul Sabbah, president and founder of Stamford International. “The arrogance serves a vital purpose – it convinces the founder that they won’t fail, despite the odds. But it also makes them less open to mentorship, for fear that taking advice somehow cheapens their accomplishment.” While entrepreneurship necessarily involves starting your own business, you shouldn’t misinterpret it as something that must be pursued without help or advice from others. On the contrary: the road to entrepreneurship is paved with the footsteps of many, all working together to make something succeed. According to Greg Borchardt, managing director and cofounder of Caerus Ventures, the most successful entrepreneurs are actually the ones that actively seek out advice and feedback – whether that’s through a mentor or a group of advisors: “[These entrepreneurs] understand their strengths and weaknesses, and they surround themselves with people who have complimentary skill sets. Successful entrepreneurs are open to continuous learning.” Entrepreneurs (even serial entrepreneurs) don’t know everything. And, even if you did, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have people keeping tabs on you. Even if it’s just having someone else reinforce your certain beliefs or strategies, having a mentor can help.

Source: Why More Entrepreneurs Should Seek Out Mentors

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A Better Way To Find Mentors and Advisors For Your Growing Company — Medium

There was a time when a CEO was surrounded by a bevy of willing advisors. An experienced board of directors or a seasoned angel investor was there to keep you from falling on your face and guide you through the rigors and pitfalls of running a company. But, those days are long gone. It’s all lean start ups and breakneck sprints to market. And, with a new company getting funded every five minutes, seed money coming from crowdfunding and institutional investors overseeing portfolios of 30 companies or more, you can’t get that sort of support anymore. Maybe other experienced independent mentors and advisors exist but how do you find them and how do you work with them? The VCs are sensing the change too; First Round Capital just announced how independent advisors can work with their portfolio of companies. I’ve advised 50 companies, started a dozen of my own and watched friends either fall down flat or go out and score 10-digit success. And, something became abundantly clear: world class mentors and advisors were vitally important. Without them, companies are far more likely to fail and while today’s CEOs surely have the brains and the guts, they might lack the experience. That’s why I helped develop and launch Bad Ass Advisors. Imagine having the ability to get answers to questions like “how do I move from Kickstarter backers to being distributed at Best Buy” or “how can my SaaS company build an internal sales culture”. The answer is experienced tech execs (check out some of our who’s who) who can guide your bad ass company in exchange for monthly slivers of equity. Get advice from those who have done it before, truly enjoy advising and mentoring and who have the expertise in the areas you need.

Source: A Better Way To Find Mentors and Advisors For Your Growing Company — Medium

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7 Places to Find Your Own Small Business Mentor | SCORE

BusinessMentorNo matter what type of business you run, having a “mentor” to help guide you can increase your odds of success. Having a wise, loyal advisor – especially one who’s “been-there, done-that” – is like money in the bank. Mentors can’t make decisions for you.  That’s your job.  But their expertise can be invaluable as a sounding board or reality check.  Mentors aren’t in it for the money.  Generally they work with business owners for free, for the satisfaction of helping out. So how do you find such a person? Here are some places and organizations that help match mentors with business owners or startup entrepreneurs: SCORE (www.score.org) is probably the best-known organization providing free (and confidential) mentoring to small business owners via its national network of some 13,000 retired business executives, leaders and volunteers. SCORE’s volunteer mentors share their expertise through both in-person and online counseling (via email). Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are another great source of free or low-cost help and advice for current and would-be business owners of all types in all locations. There are over 1,200 SBDC locations nationwide. For help locating one, visit http://www.asbdc-us.org. Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) offer business training, counseling and other resources to help women start and grow successful businesses. To find your nearest WBC check the Office of Women’s Business Ownership at http://www.sba.gov. Minority Business Development Centers, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, offer free help to minority-owned businesses through about 40 centers nationwide.  Visit the Minority Business Development Agency at http://www.mbda.gov. Trade or Professional Associations: Many trade and professional associations operate mentoring programs for business owners just starting out. Some offer formal one-on-one mentoring sessions as well as group networking opportunities.  Check associations in your industry. Mentors for Government Contracting: If your business plans to sell to the federal government, the General Services Administration (GSA) offers a Mentor/Protégé Program designed to encourage prime contractors to help small businesses be more successful in government contracting and enhance their ability to perform successfully on government contracts and subcontracts. You’ll find it at GSA.gov. Your Own Network: Who do you know? Is there a previous boss who was very inspiring to you or a friend who is a business owner? Ask that person to be your mentor or share his or her successes and struggles. You have nothing to lose. Just be prepared to share with them why you chose them in particular, your goals and what you are looking for from them. The best way to connect these days is LinkedIn. Make sure you’re on it! Here are some tips for getting the most out of a mentoring relationship: Be organized, prepared and consistent. No one wants to waste their time if you aren’t serious about success. Plan your mentoring sessions in advance. These could be as simple as having a one-on-one consultation or lunch meeting once a month to discuss where you are against your business goals, how best to tackle business obstacles, getting advice on business processes or regulatory requirements that you don’t understand, and so on. Casual one-on-one sessions are good, but also have more structured sessions that address different aspects of starting, running, managing and growing your business. A good starting point is for you to prepare a detailed agenda of items to discuss at each meeting. Take notes, take change of your “action items” and review progress against these in your next session. Be respectful of your mentor’s time. Use their insight and apply as you best see fit. It’s still your business.

Source: 7 Places to Find Your Own Small Business Mentor | SCORE

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Mentoring to Build a Better Profession

In addition to being personally beneficial, mentoring is a way to help cultivate and improve a profession that you are passionate about. It is a means for transferring technical knowledge as well as an opportunity to model and promote your educational, ethical, and professional values to others in the field.That’s why it is great news that, in round numbers, 65% of respondents to a recent CFA Institute Financial NewsBrief poll reported that they have mentored fellow finance professionals. It’s also good news because there is never a shortage of interest from early- to mid-career investment professionals for such career support.Have you voluntarily and proactively mentored fellow finance professionals?Of those who reported mentoring experience, 15% did so as part of formal programs. Certainly formal processes abound. At times in the past, these programs were primarily designed to help the development of high-potential employees for succession-planning purposes. But companies have found that mentoring is a good recruitment and engagement tool for all levels and types of employees and have grown or launched internal programs accordingly. Moreover, many firm alumni and professional associations — including several CFA Institute member societies — run mentoring programs. There are opportunities to plug into a formal mentoring structure for those who are interested.Half (50%) of respondents  mentored in an unofficial way. This likely includes many in managerial roles who look to mentor — not just supervise — their direct reports and, in turn, build more effective teams around them. In the book Managers as Mentors, Chip Bell and Marshall Goldsmith compared this process to panning for gold. The gold is mixed in with a lot of sand and you have to patiently shake away the excess so that you can sift through for the nuggets of gold. Managers are in a particularly good position to help their reports work through challenges, patiently shaking away the sand, and then sifting for the insights that help their staff develop.

Source: Mentoring to Build a Better Profession

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How to mentor and inspire an employee – Smart Business Magazine

There are many learnable skills in the food service industry: food cost and payroll management, effective ordering, inventory and stocking techniques, food preparation and facility management. These are industry critical skills; while they do not necessarily transport to smart business in general, what does freely translate across all businesses is the ability to communicate and coordinate with nearly everyone and inspire them by being a mentor to perform, successfully, the tasks that need to be done… with a smile. When we find someone with this wonderful skill and we see it is also accompanied by other important leadership skills like discipline, hard work, integrity and “smarts,” we single out this rising star and go to work. Some folks call it the “fast track,” although there is nothing especially fast about it. The accelerated learning pace always proceeds at the speed the star can absorb the information and the experience. How fast and how well the person “gets it” is an indication of the magnitude of the star. So, let’s say you have a rising star on your hands; a real high achiever who has the potential to do big things for your team and your business. How do you effectively develop this person to his or her full potential?

Source: How to mentor and inspire an employee – Smart Business Magazine

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Seattle lessons for Phoenix tech startups

As the Phoenix area’s burgeoning technology sector seeks to keep entrepreneurs and investors interested in the region, startups must ponder the talent competition it faces with leading tech cities. Paul Gambill, an Ahwatukee Foothills native and Arizona State University graduate, headed to Seattle five years ago, where he has worked for several tech firms and now heads operations for Mentor Creative Group. Mentor Creative runs a tech startup atop Seattle’s Smith Tower overlooking Puget Sound. Gambill said he opted for Seattle because he wanted to live in a major tech hub other than California’s Silicon Valley. While Seattle’s technology sector has grown steadily, it’s ballooned in the past several years, and technology startups compete there with industry giants such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft. For companies hoping to attract new talent, it takes more than good compensation and benefits. Gambill and other recruits say they’re also looking at what a company offers, the office culture and if there is opportunity to make a social impact through their work. If Arizona startups are looking to hire employees and build out the sector, they’ll have to be thinking about the culture and benefits that tech industry workers have grown to value. Several key approaches are evident in Seattle’s gains.

Source: Seattle lessons for Phoenix tech startups

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UA hires ‘mentors-in-residence’ to help spin off tech startups


The University of Arizona has hired three “mentors-in-residence” to help launch new companies from UA-bred technologies. Bruce Burgess, Kevin McLaughlin and Mike Sember will be half-time UA employees and help guide UA startups as part of Tech Launch Arizona’s Commercialization Partners program, the UA said Monday. In its first three years of operation, Tech Launch has helped create 26 startup companies, and the agency has a goal of creating 13 more during the current fiscal year ending June 30, the UA said. The Commercialization Partners program was launched in early 2014 with a dozen volunteers to help advise teams of Tech Launch staffers and UA inventors. Pause Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 0:00 Loaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00 Fullscreen 00:00 Unmute Burgess will be dedicated to biomedical devices and diagnostics, the UA said. He has 30 years of business experience, having developed numerous medical device, diagnostic and drug-delivery products. He was an executive at Eli Lilly and later was responsible for the growth and acquisition of three early-stage medical device companies. McLaughlin, mentor for physical sciences and engineering technologies, has more than 30 years of experience in tech commercialization and executive roles, formerly working for Motorola, Cray Research, Silicon Graphics, Cisco Systems and Avid technology. Recently an adjunct lecturer for the UA McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, has been working for nearly a year with Tech Launch license managers and is mentoring several startup teams.

Source: UA hires ‘mentors-in-residence’ to help spin off tech startups

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9 Ways to Find a Business Mentor

mentorA mentor has a huge influence on how you run your business. A mentor guides you in ways you never would have thought about, helping you make smarter decisions and connecting you with other industry experts. Finding the right one, however, isn’t always easy. Here’s how you can start: A. Keep Pitching Pitching the business idea creates a myriad of opportunities for encounters with potential mentors. On occasion, the passion behind the idea is equally met with enthusiastic yet succinct questions. Make an effort to continue discussions with those that exhibit expertise through intelligent responses to your pitch. Through continuous dialogue you will understand the fit of an excellent mentor. – Brian Chiou, Enigma Systems LLC A. Network at Local and Trade Events The best mentors for me have always been those I’ve met at trade shows or networking events through colleagues or general conversations. Getting out there and meeting people face-to-face will give you a better chance of finding someone who’s your perfect mentor match. – Jaime Derringer, Design Milk A. Reflect on Who Has Already Been There for You You might have one already and you don’t realize it. If you reflect back on your past experiences with the added benefit of time and perspective, it should be pretty clear who has been there for you beyond just getting a job done. It’s those people who take the time and patience to grow and push you into a better version of your professional self that’d I’d deem mentor-worthy. – Michael Wasilewski, Frank Collective A. Read Books A great mentor is someone who’s lived an adventurous life filled with experiences that are relatable to your journey. What is a book but a collection of an exceedingly successful person’s experiences? Reading a book by Peter Thiel or a biography of Elon Musk is the equivalent of having a rock-star entrepreneur share their secrets to success. – Zimin Hang, Ultradia

Source: 9 Ways to Find a Business Mentor

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Why every CEO should have a business coach – Insider Louisville

Imagine sport without any coaching.  No guidance, no structure, no discipline: a free for all. Without wishing to disparage the average high school, college or even pro athlete, at best most games would end up as chaotic screaming matches, at worst all‐out brawls. Amusing though the idea may sound to some, even an improvement, sports without coaching would make political debates sound more like afternoon tea at Downton Abbey. The idea that any athlete could climb to the pinnacle of their chosen sport without coaching is unthinkable to the point of being absurd. And yet, amazingly, in the business world many owners and executives decide that coaching is surplus to their requirements. A significant proportion of business owners and executives believe that they either cannot afford a coach or, more likely, do not need one. Is it any wonder that running a business can often feel (and often is) slightly chaotic? Don’t just take our word for it Just for a bit of fun, take a minute to Google the words “everyone needs a coach”. The first hit is a short video featuring Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and (usually) the world’s richest man, and Eric Schmidt, the former Chief Executive of Google and himself worth $11 billion. Take 86 seconds out of your day to watch it – if you run a business and don’t have a coach, at the very least it should give you pause to ponder why you think you know more about it than Gates or Schmidt. Schmidt himself is a particularly interesting example of someone who appreciates the value of a coach as well as having performed that role himself. “Getting a coach is the best advice I ever got,” he says, and perhaps those were the words he used when he was tapped to run Google after its founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page felt that they needed a more experienced hand at the helm.

Source: Why every CEO should have a business coach – Insider Louisville

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