Launching a new business can be daunting, especially for those who are new to entrepreneurship. Often one of the best ways to survive those early experiences is to listen to the wisdom of professionals who have been around the block a few times. Even years later, professionals can gain some valuable insight from others in their industry, helping them see innovative approaches to the work they do each day.
Respected business expert Tony Robbins often finds himself advising new entrepreneurs on the qualities they should look for in a mentor. In fact, lately the business strategist and author of the book Unshakeable has been doing the mentoring himself for entries to the Shopify Build a BIGGER Business Competition.
I talked with him about some of the best qualities you should look for in a person who will have the power to help shape your business destiny. Check out what he had to say below:
Find Someone Who Knows How to Execute
When seeking a mentor, people generally gravitate toward people they respect. But, Robbins emphasizes the importance of finding someone who goes beyond merely talking about how to build a great business. He says, look for execution. The best mentors have already produced the results you want. They can provide a road map to help you reach your goals too.
Robbins started with no business education, but through years of hard work, now has 31 companies. He directly manages twelve of them with more than $5 billion in sales. Thanks to all of that experience, he’s found that he can “pitch and catch” with anyone because he’s proven, over the years, that he can build and grow a company that is not only successful, but that thrives under his leadership.
“Knowledge is not power,” Robbins says. “Knowledge is potential power. Execution trumps knowledge every day of the week.”
Don’t Expect Perfection
If you go into the mentor relationship expecting perfection, you’ll find yourself judging the other person, which gets both of you nowhere. While it’s important to choose a mentor who has experience, it’s also important to realize that even the most experienced business leaders falter sometimes.
Learn to not only accept those flaws in your mentor, but to also learn from them and model your behavior after what they’ve done correctly.
“The fastest way to accelerate your progress is to model and to mentor,” Robbins says. “But you have to model and mentor someone who’s really done it, somebody who’s the best in the world at it, because they know those little two-millimeter differences that nobody else knows.”
Become a Learning Machine
Negative feedback can be difficult to hear and too often entrepreneurs close themselves off to it. But some of the most important lessons a mentor can impart will come in the form of negative feedback.
Success in business means becoming a learning machine and accepting failure as a learning experience.
“We all have blind spots,” Robbins says. “A person who can’t see their blind spots who connects with a mentor who has no motivation other than to try to soothe them is not going to grow and they’re not going to stay in business.”
Eagerness to Help
Like many successful professionals, Robbins wants to help others and that’s a defining difference. Entrepreneurs should look for mentors who are eager to pass what they’ve learned to a new generation.
Recently, for instance, Robbins continued his partnership with Shopify for its “Build a Bigger Business Competition,” which accepted entries in the first few months of the year. Now he's busy advising the startups that entered.
“The focus is on businesses that have been in business at least a year and have a million in revenue up to $50 million,” Robbins says. “What we’re looking to do is to really give them the most incredible mentoring and skills and tools up front and then out of that find eight victors. Out of that competition, they all go to Fiji to my resort and spend a whole week with myself and a whole group of pretty extraordinary mentors.”
Mentors may seem difficult to find, but every industry has experienced professionals who would be honored to coach someone who respects them. Don’t sell yourself short. Go right up and ask someone who feels like the right fit. Remember, before searching, carefully consider what you hope to achieve from the relationship. That will help you identify the perfect person to help you reach your goals.