What Young Entrepreneurs Need From a Mentor

It's vital to build trust through interest in the founder's ideas and business.

learn more about Jim Ryan

By Jim Ryan • Nov 7, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Young entrepreneurs come packaged typically with a bundle of ideas often coupled with the "I know everything" confidence most young people have. The challenge as a mentor or business advisor is how to channel those ideas and confidence for a successful entrepreneur's business launch.

I remember my father always telling me to "focus and keep still." As an energized teenager and even into my 20s I had difficulty as a young entrepreneur controlling ideas and concepts. Unfortunately, I didn't have access to a network of senior business executives that helped me with proper guidance and advice.

Today there are multiple groups, organizations and universities that support young entrepreneurs in a variety of ways, both altruistically and fee based. From networking, funding, concepts, knowledge, experience and more, a mentor can guide a young entrepreneur early on and help zero in on proper business tactics and build upon an initial strategy.

Related: Looking for a Dose of Inspiration? Try Mentoring a Young Entrepreneur.

A mentor's best approach should be about building trust through their interest in the entrepreneur's ideas and business. Sharing both business and personal experiences including mistakes and successes can be great value. Listening to their go-to market strategy and ideas is key. Reviewing any business plans and asking questions helps diagnose the business model and helps the mentor interpret the skills and talents of the entrepreneur.

Quite often, a mentor may want to express a Draconian method of managing an entrepreneur. As you can imagine, no one likes or appreciates this style unless a freight-train disaster is eminent for the business.

So what is a great formula for a mentor and business advisor to help develop the young entrepreneur?

  • Recognize coachable moments in a conversation
  • Introduce ideas that allow the entrepreneur to arrive at a conclusion
  • Develop and nurture the relationship by sharing experiences
  • Harvest their ideas and demonstrate the value of staying focused

A mentor needs to keep in mind they are in a supportive and very influential role. While the young entrepreneur may be quite the genius, no one knows "everything" and even just a few slight modifications or ideas expressed in an advisory role can be demonstrative to their business and a huge win. A supportive mentor relationship can be quite rewarding for the young entrepeneur and build great value for the business.

Related: 8 Characteristics of Mentors Who Are Worth Your Time

Jim Ryan

Entrepreneur, Investor, Founder and CEO, TALK2REP

Jim Ryan is a 20+ year entrepreneur, investor and CEO and founder of Talk2Rep. Talk2Rep is an international business-process outsourcer specializing in teleservices and live chat for the Global 1000. Ryan is a regular conference speaker and has also lectured at several universities including American InterContinental University on entrepreneurship. He is also a founding mentor for Florida Atlantic Univeristy's Tech Runway Entrepreneur program. Ryan is currently developing several new Internet businesses and partnered with Lighthouse Works in a mission to greater employ those that are blind and sight-challenged throughout the U.S.

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