July 11, 2023

Broken to Better: If You Want to Be Successful, Be Teachable

No successful entrepreneur did it on their own.

I know I didn’t. I met my mentor, Bill, at a networking event. We both moved to California from the East Coast to start our businesses, but he was just a few decades ahead of me. He taught me all the things I didn’t know that I didn’t know about business. All those details that go into getting it off the ground.

Without mentors—without being teachable—I wouldn’t be where I am today.

So that’s the next piece of advice I have for those looking to enter the business world with an idea of their own. Be teachable.

Where do you start? I’ve laid out four practical tips to help you find a mentor and become more teachable. 

1. Find the right fit for you

A mentor that meets your needs is out there. It’s most likely someone you already know who’s seasoned in the area of business you hope to be in. 

Before searching for a mentor, determine where you need help and look for someone with complementary skills. During my early days in business, Bill was the perfect mentor because he had lots of operational experience. His knowledge helped me get my systems and business off the ground.

But remember this: You need to find someone willing to mentor you. It takes a lot to run your own business, so some professionals may not have the time or brain space to take on a mentee. Make sure someone has the desire and time to dedicate toward your success.

Once you’re in, give the relationship time to settle in. You want to find someone that aligns with your personality and goals but don’t judge too quickly.

2. Be open to learning

Once you and your mentor have set solid expectations, it’s time to listen. Of course, you can have different ideas or disagree, but you chose your mentor because of their expertise. They’re providing direction because you lack the knowledge, so don’t push back every chance you get.

Lively debates and conversations are fine, but your mentor won’t want to waste their time if you come off as disagreeable or like you lack humility. Be humble and hear what they have to say before disagreeing.

3. Respect your mentor’s time

Once you have a mentor, it’s tempting to reach out to them for every small question that pops up, but they’re likely running a business, too. Instead of sending piecemeal communications and taking up more of their time, wait and gather a handful of questions to ask at your next meeting. 

You should also always meet your commitments to your mentor. Even as the mentee, you have a responsibility to be on time, have an agenda for each meeting, and generally be prepared to get answers to your questions. Your mentor is giving you their time, so you need to give them your attention. 

Be sure to always follow up accordingly and do what you say you will do.

4. Understand that mentorship dynamics are ever-changing

Mentorships, like all relationships, change over time. My mentor Bill and I met quarterly at first but switched to annual meet-ups once my business got underway. 

Expect the relationship to change as your business grows. You might need expert help in different areas, and your mentor can point you to the right people. Later on, you may be in a position to help your mentor and return the favor. Just because the relationship changes doesn’t make it any less valuable.

When you’re ready to start hiring, think about setting up a company-wide mentoring program. Perhaps, pair new hires with a buddy coach. A coach could show their new hires the ropes and get them up to speed on everything from job duties to the #BeBetter culture. It’s just one way to ensure the future success of Branded Group team members.

Want hands-on guidance to becoming teachable and finding a mentor for your next business venture? Check out my consulting page to get started.

As always, I wish you the best in your business venture!    

This piece is based on a chapter of Broken to Better: 13 Ways Not to Fail at Life and Leadership. The book is dedicated to business leaders who are seeking to Be Better in their company for their employees, clients and communities. Download/purchase the full book, here.

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