Finding the right mentor is an important milestone in every entrepreneur’s start-up journey. While there are many resources available online, including our free online business resource centre, the one-on-one insights an entrepreneur can gain from a mentoring relationship can make all the difference.

When looking for a mentor, entrepreneurs tend to look at attributes like their track record, past business successes and how well-known they are in the industry. While those factors are important, they do not define a great mentor.

If you are looking for a mentor, here are some things to keep in mind.

Set expectations

As every mentoring relationship can offer different things, it is important to know what you need for your specific situation. Understanding your expectations such as how often you’d like to meet, the kind of relationship you’re looking for, and the values that you’d want your mentor to believe in, will help you vet out who is right for you. For example, if you are looking for a mentor to be informal and highly encouraging and you are currently with a mentor that has a more ‘cold hard facts’ approach, that could be a sign that they’re not the right for you.

Look for complementing skillsets

Every entrepreneur possesses a different set of strengths and weaknesses, and the same goes for your mentor. While your first instinct may be to choose a mentor with a similar skillset to you, finding somebody that can fill in your skills gaps can be incredibly valuable. For example, a tech entrepreneur may know a lot about the science behind their technology, but may not necessarily know much about marketing. Therefore, finding a mentor that has more expertise in this area would be highly beneficial.

Find an industry expert

Like mentioned in the previous point, finding a mentor that complements your strengths and weaknesses can be very helpful. However, that doesn’t mean you should exclusively look for mentors outside of your own industry. A mentor with relevant industry experience can offer insight on the market and competition, as well as give you access to a network of useful contacts. It could also help you avoid business mistakes that are very common in your industry. For example, if your business is a local shop that imports fabrics from around the world, having a mentor that has worked in the importing business may prove useful in avoiding shipping mistakes.

While Futurpreneur Canada hand-picks mentors for its entrepreneurs, knowing what to look for in a mentor will guide you not only through your current business, but endeavors ahead. Remember, you can have more than one business mentor!

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Written by: Sara Pivato, Social Media and Content Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada