27 Aug, 2020

The Importance of Having a Mentor and Where To Find One

What am I missing? Am I doing something wrong?

These questions swirl around your head as you troubleshoot yet another problem in your business.

If only there was someone I could ask.

There is. 

Entrepreneurship can be trying. When you give it your all and see no results, it’s disheartening and on some days, demoralizing.

Having a mentor to steer you in the right direction benefits in more ways than one – whether that’s guiding you through technicalities and providing you with time-saving tips or sending you words of encouragement to save you from despondence.

In this article, we’ll talk about why you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to mentors and where you can find one.

Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Hire yourself and start calling the shots.

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Successful Entrepreneurs’ Willingness to Help

Take comfort in knowing that it’s common – and almost customary – to feel discouraged as an entrepreneur. Not a single one of the successful ecommerce owners we’ve spoken to at Oberlo has gotten to where they are today without days of exasperation.

Actually, not even the great Jeff Bezos himself has.

In these particularly challenging times we’re currently in, you may feel like you need guidance now more than ever. And now’s actually a great moment to start looking for a mentor because more and more successful entrepreneurs are stepping up to help others.

Right now, it’s our duty as entrepreneurs especially to educate people. – Suhail Nurmohamed

If you’re feeling intimidated at the thought of reaching out to one, don’t. Because what we’ve found that successful merchants have in common is their generosity and willingness to help.

While some impart their knowledge through mentorship programs that they’ve started, others do so in their personal capacity.

Successful merchant Courtney White, for instance, is helping her son build his own online store while Ryan Carroll has also helped his dad to launch a store that was profitable on its second day.

Though they’re the ones guiding, at the bottom of it all, it’s their desire to continue learning that drives them. 

You learn best when you’re teaching people. It really gets you to master your own business and basics when people ask questions that may have been in your own blind spot. – Shishir Nigam

Having already endured the downs and powered through tough times, many successful entrepreneurs know what you’re going through and are more than willing to extend a helping hand.

This then raises the question – where can you find them?

Three Places To Look for Mentors

Networking Platforms and Events

GrowthMentor, in its own words, is a “curated platform of invite-only startup and marketing mentors which have proven experience in their respective fields.”

From bootstrapping and social media to PPC strategies, you can filter very specific focuses and select from their list of mentors one you think best fits your needs.

Another similar platform is Ten Thousand Coffees, a virtual networking site. 

You can browse through an entire database of users, view their profiles, and reach out to those you find may be relevant and are opening to mentoring. 

Event planning sites like Meetup and Eventbrite are also great places to look. These platforms organize events spanning across a plethora of topics – entrepreneurship and ecommerce included. 

Though they’re not created to connect you with mentors per se, it’s an amazing way to meet like-minded people and network with expert entrepreneurs.

While these events are usually held in-person, nearly all have gone virtual because of COVID-19. That removes all physical constraints and you can attend sessions and (virtually) network and potentially connect with mentors from all over the world.

Social Media and Blogs

Often overlooked, social media is actually a great way to seek out mentors. 

As a budding entrepreneur, chances are you’ve done your fair share of learning from successful entrepreneurs in one way or another through the internet.

Whether that’s from their YouTube channel, Instagram, Twitter page, or even blog, that means that you already have a way to connect with them.

The next step would be to open a channel of communication. A simple outreach message can set the stage for a meaningful relationship. 

But you’ll want to be tactful with your message especially when reaching out to their personal social media accounts.

Plus, people often follow people they’re inspired by. So just as you’re following them, these entrepreneurs have their own sources of inspiration they follow. 

With social media, you’re able to see who they’re connected to and that means going one tier up and getting to know (or at least follow) more successful business owners and potential mentors. 

Oberlo

If you’ve read our blog content, listened to our podcast, or watched the interviews on our YouTube page, you’ll know that at Oberlo, we often bring you inspirational stories about successful ecommerce merchants. 

If you’ve come across a particular merchant you find inspiring or whose business or marketing tactics you find interesting, don’t be afraid to reach out.

For many of them, aside from running their ecommerce business(es), they have also started mentorship programs and built communities to help aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Here are a few:

Just… Ask

The best approach to reaching out to a mentor is to just… ask. 

Whatever difficulties you’re encountering with your business, they’ve probably gotten stuck where you have. 

Even if they don’t officially have a mentorship program, even if it’s just a story you read that you found motivating, why not just reach out to them?

To quote New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts,

If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

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Ying Lin: Ying Lin is a journalist-turned-content marketer who is on a journey to help companies scale. She is also the co-founder of Dear Content, a content marketing boutique.