Typically everyone in the entrepreneurship ecosystem associates mentors with founders. But I was intrigued to discover this article by Larry Alton entitled The One Thing Every Investor Needs to Be Successful. He starts off by saying There are a lot of different things investors need to do in order to be successful, but if you’re looking for a lesson that applies across the board, it’s this: find a mentor. Every successful investor has a mentor. As soon as you understand this, your future will become much brighter.
The two reasons he gives why investors need mentors are knowledge and real world experience. The difference is that real world experience equates to street smarts, something you might find lacking in mentors with deep knowledge from academia, for example. While these two reasons may well apply to investors, they differ somewhat to my view on mentoring founders, which is not so much based on knowledge transfer as on guidance, advice, feedback and asking the right question at the right time.
There are three places Larry Alton recommends you find a mentor:
- Personal networking
- Mutual connections
- Online courses
While the first two sources probably aren’t a surprise to anyone, the third, online courses was a surprise to me.
A mentor doesn’t have to be someone you met at a conference or grab coffee with every other Monday morning – you can find mentors online. This is one of the extremely beneficial aspects of social networking and eLearning.
Take Sam Ovens as an example. Ovens is a New York-based business consultant who also spends time teaching and mentoring students online. He interacts with thousands of people and provides wisdom and values. There are hundreds of other “mentors” just like him in the investing niche. You’ll usually find them teaching online courses or leading groups. Attach yourself to one and learn everything you can.
This insight is the most worthwhile nugget in the entire article. With the rise in MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) there is no shortage of very smart and experienced people online – and they aren’t hard to find. So I highly recommend this source if you haven’t found a mentor in other ways.
Most interesting to me was that Mr. Alton comes to the exact same conclusion for investors that I have come to, and preach, for founders.
Become Addicted to Learning
Successful investors don’t just put their money in investment vehicles and then sit back and watch. Successful investors are addicted to learning. They know that they can never learn enough and seize any opportunity they can discover to grow themselves.
As an investor, one way you can quench your thirst for learning is by finding a mentor and soaking up every bit of wisdom they have to offer.
So whether you are an investor or an entrepreneur this short article is worth a read. Not being an investor myself I can’t vouch for its value to investors, but there are certainly insights of value to mentors and founders.
Mentoring is an educational process, so it’s no accident that founders will most easily find mentors through academic programs such as The MIT Venture Mentoring Service. VMS has trained something like 75 organizations in how to setup a mentoring service, so chances are there’s a VMS-trained mentoring program not too far from you.