When most entrepreneurs look for mentors, they tend to look for generic “business mentors.” People who can help guide them on their path to success. However, entrepreneurs often forget to look for niche mentors. Often times looking for niche mentors is better than trying to find a general business mentor.
What is a “Niche Mentor?”
A niche mentor is someone who knows just one specific area of your business model very, very well.
For example, let’s say you’re a rapidly expanding eCommerce website. You’re getting to the point where you need to switch from dropshipping to running a warehouse. Unfortunately, neither you nor anyone on your staff has any experience running a fulfillment operation.
You don’t know what the right equipment is. You don’t know the processes. You wouldn’t know a good employee from a bad one. You don’t know where to start.
Instead of looking for a “business mentor,” you should instead be looking for someone who understands just fulfillment very, very well.
This concept applies to just about every business. The expertise you need might be financial, it might be technical, it might be in manufacturing, it might be in going abroad. Whatever the case is, sometimes it makes more sense to look for mentors in a very specific arena rather than generic mentors.
Figure Out Where You Need Mentoring
Break your business down by all the different areas of expertise needed. To continue the eCommerce example, the breakdown might look something like this:
- Ability to generate traffic
- Ability to run the web software
- Ability to find wholesalers and distributors
- Ability to run fulfillment
- Ability to find investors
You might look for mentors in each of these individual areas. Some arenas, like finding investors, can be addressed by any mentor. Other areas, such as finding wholesalers from China for example, are better addressed by specialists.
Some of These Mentors Can Be Hired
When you’re looking at a broad business mentor, you’re usually looking at someone who has a very casual relationship to your company. You might only meet with them for coffee once every week or two.
That’s because these kinds of mentors tend to be high net-worth individuals. You won’t be able to bring them onto your team unless they’re also investors.
On the other hand, many niche mentors won’t be high net-worth individuals. For example, an expert on how to run a great fulfillment operation probably isn’t a millionaire. You’ll often be able to hire these people and bring them on your staff.
Your staff can be your mentors. As Michael Dell says, your core group of employees should always be smarter than you. You shouldn’t be pulling your employees to the next level; instead they should be pulling you.