Where to look for mentors

1. Your network 

Scour your own personal network of family, friends and colleagues. Then go one step further, and think about their personal networks – could they connect you to anybody? Don’t be afraid to ask.

2. Casual social outreach 

Think of people you admire in the realm of business and reach out to them on professional social media networks, like LinkedIn, The Dots (UK) or even their Twitter. Try to keep it casual, though.

3. Your industry 

Consider people who are part of similar industry interest groups.

Is there, for example, an online or even local network for business founders working in sustainability, or in fintech, or in interior design? Co-working spaces often put on events.

4. Online communities

The Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs is an online community with courses and chat groups.

5. Structured mentorship programmes

These are often run by larger businesses or incubators in major cities.

6. Programmes built for minorities 

There are numerous niche programmes serving different groups, such as I LIKE NETWORKING, a programme for women and non-binary people in the creative and culture sector; and Creative Mentor Network, which caters for those from lower socio- economic backgrounds.

How to structure it

First, decide if you would like to be mentored on a structured or adhoc basis.

• If structured, agree on the frequency: weekly, monthly, or quarterly? Clarify how the sessions will go. Will you give an outline of how the business is doing and ask questions at the beginning of the session? Will you be set tasks to think about before the meeting? Due prep before meetings is essential.

• If you’d rather be mentored on an adhoc basis, make sure the boundaries are agreed with your mentor. This could include when to reach out, how to reach out and what sorts of questions are appropriate to ask.

• Consider how long you would like the mentoring to last. While you don’t have to set a time boundary, some relationships come to a natural end once the mentee feels comfortable.

This article was first published in How to Start a Business 2021. To become a subscriber or purchase our newest guide, head to our webshop.

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