Original by Stuart Skorman. Edited for use in this blog about Mentors in Entrepreneurship.

Finding a mentor is the best way to learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Mentors can teach you the ins and outs of a business and be helpful role models. 

Consider these tips: 

Know you need a mentor. 

The more ambitious you are, the more help you’ll require. 

Prioritize a mentoring relationship. 

Seek out a good mentor just as you’d seek out a great location, a favorable contract, or a business partner. Make a list of the qualities you’d like to find in a mentor, and don’t settle for the first person who comes along. 

Show your appreciation. 

The best mentoring blossoms from a mutually beneficial relationship. What can you do to return the favor? Your contribution may be as simple as cleaning your mentor’s office or doing errands—look for a need your mentor has and fill it. 

Always be on the lookout for mentors.

They may be in unlikely places. Join a professional organization. The more you circulate in your chosen field, the more likely you are to bump into potential mentors. But keep an open mind; anyone can be a mentor. 

Be specific. 

Don’t approach a potential mentor with a vague cry for help. Be confident, and state your needs clearly. For example, don’t say, “I want to be an entrepreneur. Tell me everything you know.” Instead, focus on your request—for example: “I want to be in the pharmacy business, and I know you are an expert in the field. Could you give me feedback on the viability of my business plan?” 

Do your homework. 

Before approaching a potential mentor, find out as much as you can about him or her. Question people who know this person. Familiarize yourself with his or her background. Your goal is for your potential mentor to see your due diligence as a sign of respect and an indication of your seriousness. 

Mentor others. 

People who go out of their way to help others attract people who want to help them. And sometimes, the best way to repay a mentor is to pay it forward.


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