Balancing Mentor Advice

Today I want to talk about how startup founders should deal with mentors and the advice they give. If you are an energetic and interesting founder, you’ll find lots of people out there will want to be associated with your business in the early days. Most of these people will have great resumes working at big companies or successful startups, but most of them won’t be investors in your company or have any real stake in your success.

You might meet potential mentors through a pitch competition, or an accelerator, or through your university. The thing I want to warn you is that if you meet with five well-intentioned people and ask them the same question, chances are you’ll get five different opinions. And most mentors will come with strong opinions from their own personal experiences, which may or may not apply to your business and situation. Many mentors are happy to offer opinions after only meeting with you for a short time, even though they probably know little about your company.

The best mentors are like psychiatrists. They ask you big, open ended questions that make you think. They challenge you to come to your own conclusions, instead of telling you the answers. Great mentors will share experiences from their own lives and may help you find parallels in the challenges you are facing with your startup.

Look, I’m not perfect as a mentor myself. I want to do better, and I try to heed this advice when I am asked questions by founders. But my advice on this Founder Coach episode is to make sure you manage the advice you get from your mentors. Try to engage with mentors in the way that helps you make decisions and stay away from mentors that tell you how to run your business. It’s your business, you need to run it.

Thanks for reading today’s post, I hope this helps you find great mentors that help you make great decisions.



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