Step Seven of the ten-step Maturepreneurial series How to Start a Business After 40 is to find a mentor, whether that be a person or a group of people from whom you can learn and benefit.

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Kevin Curtis

Find a Mentor

As with so many other once-easy-to-understand concepts, the modern idea of a mentor has expanded enormously from what it used to be. Of course, mentors are still those individuals found particularly in business and educational environments who lead you, guide you, and support you through predictable phases of development.

Under the traditional model, your mentor could be a boss, a teacher, a coach, a relative, a volunteer, or any of a number of people who have already traveled the path you’re now on. Such people can:

  • Prepare you for what’s to come
  • Help you navigate the obstacles you encounter
  • Challenge you to see things differently
  • Support and encourage you by believing in you and nurturing your potential
  • Provide a sense of perspective and proportion to your otherwise limited, subjective point of view

These are benefits that all mentors provide. But traditionally, these people were already known to you through the normal course of your activities or your networks and you met with them in person to benefit from their wisdom and experience.

We are no longer restricted to this model.

The Modern Major Mentor

Under the modern model, your mentor could still be in any of the above roles, but serve you in a virtual capacity. They could mentor you for free or you could pay them for their services but you don’t have to meet in person.

Among the Maturepreneurial podcast guests who offer paid mentor/coaching services are Mary Lunnen, Maggie Huffman, Lisa Vogt, Nicole Holland, Joel Boggess, Dinesh Kandanchatha, Jason Treu, Alf Herigstad, Darieth Chisolm, Chuck Gumbert, Tony Woodall, Bob Nolley, and Jon Butt.

You could easily reach out and engage with any of them online.

Unrequited Mentorship

Given the ease of sharing ideas and the proliferation of coaches and their philosophies these days, it is entirely possible, if not highly likely, that the person you choose for your mentor may never actually be personally known to you. Or you to her. And with the explosion of podcasting, it is easier than ever to access the wisdom and content of virtually any expert on the planet.

To some extent, this has always been possible through reading books. Napoleon Hill has served as a model and mentor to thousands of people since he published his book Think and Grow Rich in 1937. Dale Carnegie was another early and hugely popular mentor with his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Some of today’s most revered mentors include Michael Gerber, author of the e-myth book series; Tim Ferriss with his 4-Hour book series, blog and podcast; and Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas, both successful, influential, and highly visible podcasters.

Maturepreneurial podcast guests who have written books to share their wisdom and their processes include Tom Schwab, Maggie Huffman, Bill Belew, Joel Boggess, Alf Herigstad, Darieth Chisolm, Chuck Gumbert, and Tony Woodall.

The list of such thought-leader authors is long and continues to grow. You could follow and learn from them without ever meeting them. You can pick and choose among them. You can follow them for a time and then move on. And if you are, in fact, looking for a personal relationship, it is relatively easy today to establish personal contact with any of these leaders.

The Mastermind Group

Yet another category of ever-expanding mentorship is the mastermind group. Here the definition and application of mentorship are looser than they are with individual mentors. You yourself could effectively serve as mentor to people in the group who are not as far along with their businesses as you are. Give and take within mastermind relationships is more fluid than the one-way leadership or instruction that flows from mentor to mentee in the traditional model. It’s more a circle of peers than a role model and protégé.

In some ways, groups are easier to engage with because your participation is on-demand; you engage when and how it is convenient for you. Facebook groups have been on the rise for some time, fulfilling this function of entrepreneurial support. Since they meet virtually, your participation is not constrained by time or location. The content is always available. You access it and contribute to it as your time allows. For maturepreneurs still tied to traditional employment, this can be a huge boon.

But master mind groups also meet in person, online, and via conference calls, keeping in touch and maintaining accountability with the help of extended communications, like email.

There are also groups and communities you can pay to join that really help move you and your business forward. Two communities our podcast and food blog benefit from are Podcaster’s Paradise and Foodblogger Pro. We have also benefited from various online courses and communities, such as Internet Business Mastery, that helped us figure out and set up the Dishes Delish food blog, improve photography and editing skills, learn about WordPress, and overcome other challenges.

Mentors Closer to Home

Johannah Barton and Michaela Jedinak both mention their husbands as de-facto mentors whose professional advice and guidance benefited them and their businesses. Joel Boggess has said that his wife has played a key role in his success. Alf Herigstad credits his father and family for helping him. Henry Lopez has a business partner.

The point is that you don’t have to figure out your way alone. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. We all need help. We all could benefit from broader perspective. We all need encouragement to look ahead and to keep on going.

Wherever you choose to find your support, do engage. It will lighten your load to share it with others. It will also increase your chances of success when you engage with those who know more than you about what you’re trying to accomplish and can help to hold you accountable for your commitments.

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