Some of you have enough startup experience whereby friends and colleagues alike are asking you, “how did you do it and how can I make my idea happen?” Sound familiar? Well, if it has happened often enough and you actually enjoy the process, you might want to consider becoming a mentor to other startups either on your own or through an actual accelerator program.
If it’s your cup of tea, then check out these suggestions as to how to most effectively mentor a startup:
It’s Personal: You want to get personally invested in the startup and that means going through and feeling elation, excitement, pride, confusion, and at times, frustration. If you’re not involved on this level with a startup as a mentor, then you’re wasting your time.
Intuition: Instead of looking for consistently revolutionary ideas from mentors, startups are looking to you for your intuition – the common sense choices you make based on your experience. In other words, you’re a mentor because you’ve consistently made good decisions and when you haven’t, you’ve been able to learn from them and move forward.
Feedback not Fix: You role is to help direct the startup in the right direction by providing feedback whenever possible. This doesn’t mean solving their problems for them but guiding them to solve the problems themselves. As you have more experience you may able to look down the road further and have them think about issues before they reach them, but avoid solving their problems.
Honesty: Of course your role as a mentor is to help keep the vibe positive regardless of the challenges but keep it mind that also means being honest at all times. This is what makes mentoring truly great – when it’s both positive and negative feedback. Constructive criticism will make all the difference.
The Limits: Know your own limitations when it comes to getting involved. This means that mentoring a startup should be a productive and joyful experience. The moment it becomes a burden, then it’s time think twice about being involved. Sharing what you’ve learned should be a positive experience and one that you should also be learning from.
Share Mistakes: You’re a mentor because of your successes but if you’re able to share your mistakes, you’ll be that much more of an asset. Sharing your mistakes shows your humanity and your fallibility to the startup and it gives them room to breathe with their project. You were able to learn and grow from your missteps, and so should the startup. Hopefully, it’ll be easier because you’ve shared yours.