Written By: Brittany Haavaldsrud, Founder, Fjordlife
Thanks to the Futurpreneur Canada mentorship program I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to build relationships with two incredible business mentors. I knew receiving advice from an experienced professional would be helpful, but I did not realize how valuable these relationships would become. Entrepreneurship can sometimes feel like a lonely game. As a solo entrepreneur, I am often internally strategizing or making decisions on my own. The simple process of discussing my ideas out loud or having my mentor as a sounding board to bounce ideas off of has made all the difference. I often leave the meetings feeling inspired and motivated to tackle a new project. The advice and support I receive has instilled a sense of confidence in me and encourages me to keep moving forward.
Here are some key tactics I’ve learned to make the most of a mentor relationship:
For a mentor relationship to be effective you need to take an active, participatory role. This involves being honest and open about your goals, aspirations, strengths and weaknesses. Before meeting with my mentor I put some thought into what I wanted the outcome to be. I listed all of the areas I could use advice on and brought that list to the first meeting. From there we were able to identify four key areas we would centre our discussions around.
Prioritizing your meetings as you would if it were a client is important. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to meet frequently but meeting consistently (for example, the first of each month) will make it a priority and you will be less likely to reschedule when things get busy. I also suggest meeting for at least an hour in length and connecting informally (via phone call or email) in between meetings if you have any questions that arise. I like to use the last 10 minutes of each meeting as a brainstorming session for any projects I’m looking to launch. This allows me to get the ball rolling on ideas and I can spend time formulating a plan outside of the meeting.
Communicating and defining short and long term goals will allow you to measure your progress. Make sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART). One of the ways I do this is by creating worksheets that track the following: strategies implemented, cost, timeline, desired result and actual outcome. I will then bring the worksheets to each meeting so we can evaluate my progress and determine if changes need to be made.
Be candid and open to any feedback you receive. At the end of the day any decision you make will always be yours. Listen to the advice of your mentor and then trust your instincts.
Having a mentor is one of the best investments you can make in your business. A great mentor will push you to think in ways you haven’t thought before and encourage you to get out of your comfort zone. Being committed to the process and using the tactics outlined above will ensure you get the most out of your relationship.
Brittany is the founder of , an online shopping and lifestyle destination for ethically sourced womenswear and natural beauty products. After learning about the hidden practices in the fashion and beauty industry, and discovering designers who were working to transform this, Brittany established Fjordlife to combine thoughtful design with meaningful impact. Passionate about social entrepreneurship and sustainability in the supply chain, Brittany is hoping to use Fjordlife’s influence to clean up the fashion and beauty industry.