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November 05, 2018

  • James Leavelle
    Senior Certified Business Advisor
Over the last several months, local successful businessmen have had the opportunity to give back to institutions that they felt greatly influenced them and assisted them in their successes.  

It’s always great to listen to people as they make these contributions talk about the influencers that helped make them successful.  Invariably, they nearly always mention one or two people who were mentors to them.  When you look beyond the local examples, you see other successful individuals and they too have or have had mentors.

The take away from that is everyone can benefit from a mentor.  A business advisor, time and again, I see motivated individuals with dreams of starting successful businesses but have the attitude or approach that they can do it on their own.  They just are here to see me for the first steps.  The reality is usually different.  If well-known successful people can benefit from mentors, shouldn’t a mentor be good for anyone starting a business?

Lean In is an organization with a stated mission “to empower women to achieve their ambitions.”  They have four tips that they believe everyone should know.  (

First, mentorship is a relationship that is started with a mutual connection.  Work hard to be noticed, by someone “whose career path aligns with your goals.”   The key here is the relationship building that starts with working hard and being noticed.

Second, it is important to mind the fact that the mentor’s time is valuable!  Questions that can be easily found on Google are a waste of time.  Bring questions that have been thought out and deal with the significant issue and you are facing.  The listen with purpose!

Third, recognize that feedback is a gift.  Don’t be afraid to ask for it with specific questions such as “What can I do better?”  When you are accepting of honest feedback, you build the mentor relationship stronger.

The final tip deals with trust.  When you have executed the first three steps and really begun to develop the relationship, your mentor can become your sponsor.  Now, instead of just working to help make you a better business owner, they can begin to sponsor or promote you without fear of hurting their reputation.

I challenge you to think of someone whom you think is successful in business.  If you try hard enough, you will probably learn that they had someone to mentor them at some point time.  If you truly want to grow and be highly successful, find a mentor!

“Business Tips” was written by James Leavelle, Business Development Specialist and Senior Certified Business Advisor IV of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center.  For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact him at