Always be open and listen
Mentors, advisors, friends and family have all had a prominent effect on my successes in business. The people in my life that have had the most influence did so in a selfless manner.
I have been very fortunate to find great people at the right place and at the right time along my journey, who were eager and willing to help me learn and grow.
As I look back at three of the most important influencers to me as an entrepreneur, undefinedI note that the best mentors entered my life through their own accord and at a time when I most needed them.
How can a person recognize and accept the efforts of people willing and wanting to assist? There is no magic formula. You sometimes just need to step away from the path you have laid out and use the input from others.
“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” — John C. Maxwell
My first mentor offered her help when I was a very young entrepreneur – still a high school student struggling to build a company while my peers were playing football.
A close friend’s mother, an MBA and budding CPA, initially read and offered input on my business plan. She helped me to better understand key concepts in business as I started my first company.
After that, I often sought her counsel. She provided me with a voice of reason and one degree of separation. This separation allowed for an honest and non- emotion based evaluation of the situation.
Her unbiased input caused me to take a step back from my sometimes stubborn and steadfast reaction to a problem, and allowed me to make sound decisions to grow my business. This also allowed me to grow and mature as an entrepreneur.
We celebrated my victories and worked out issues together. Her influence on me as a person and business executive was a key part in my life until her untimely passing from cancer.
I have had many mentors in my life, often at the same time. From my own father, also an MBA, to my current Board of Directors, I have always appreciated good counsel when solving complex or sticky issues.
My father would talk to me every week offering advice, celebrating my wins and dissecting my losses with me, until his recent death, also from cancer.
These counseling needs seem to line up in steady pace for an entrepreneur. The value of a seasoned and involved board of directors can be very valuable if properly used as well. I know the plague of entrepreneurism often meets with an unwillingness to admit the need of advice, but as a lifelong entrepreneur, I can assure you that seeking advice and counsel is more often the secret of success than not.
How I found My Mentors and Advisors
In some cases as with my first and most influential mentor, our relationship started by just being in proximity and having a good personal relationship.
However, networking is what brought to me one of my most recent advisors. I met him in a chance meeting at a business event.
He approached me and started a conversation. I, being a bit skeptical as to his interest, asked about his business. He stated he was a lawyer. I immediately stepped back, held up my hands in a defensive move and said, “I don’t need any more lawyers!” He looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t want to be your lawyer, I want to be your friend”. I believed him and a friendship was born.
He went on to become a key business legal advisor in my latest venture until his recent passing from cancer.
Throughout my journey losing people to cancer has become a relentless theme. These three great mentors are just a few of the people that have assisted in my efforts and their loss is a huge reason I am now in a business concentrating on helping people to combat and beat this and other horrible diseases.
Sometimes you just need to listen
My advice is to first connect with a person wanting to help you, then listen to them and heed their advice. Sounds simple on the surface. If you listen, do otherwise, then go back and complain because the results were not what you wanted or expected, you wont ever get a relationship that will be of benefit for you or them.
As an entrepreneur, life is great when you make good decisions. However, attempting to do everything on your own is often more foolish than brilliant. This is why listening to experienced and educated advisors, who are truly dedicated to helping you succeed, can be the difference between a horrible failure and a rousing success.
Often an entrepreneur may not listen to the counsel provided and go it on his or her own, disregarding all advice. I have seen this many times. That might be a good choice sometimes, but more often than not, it can be disastrous.
Having a clean, clear eye on an issue can help in a lot of ways. The use of advisors that are a degree removed from the problem is often a key to success in solving an issue.
How Can You Find Your Advisors
Get out, participate and look. Befriend and get to know people at networking groups and always be on the lookout for that special person you both click with, who has a deeper background or different parallel knowledge than yourself. You want an advisor that will challenge you, not agree with you all the time.
This article was written by Bill Rader from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.