Mentoring Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is all about making the right decision at the right time out of endless opportunities. How to make a good decision? by not repeating others mistakes, how? by following smart people’s advice - people from the industry, who seen everything, been there, done that. The advises you’ll get from those people will be right to 99% of entrepreneurs. But in startup it’s all about going against the odds, against predictability. Good ideas are not just waiting for someone to pickup, good ideas are buried under tons on skepticism and irrationality.

Entrepreneurship is about taking part of a long unpredictable journey.
I see mentoring an entrepreneurs more like mentoring artists rather than developers (yes, I do see art in coding). If you learn everything about software development, you’ll probably be a good developer, maybe even a great one. If you’ll learn everything about entrepreneurship, you’re probably wasting your time.

Why? Here are two excellent notes by Jason Fried

Advice, like fruit, is best when it’s fresh. But advice quickly decays, and years old advice is bound to be radioactive. Sharing a life experience is one thing (grandparents are great at this — listen to them!), but advice is another thing. Don’t give advice about things you used to know. Just because you did something a long time ago doesn’t mean you’re qualified to talk about it today. - Jason Fried

One of the best skills to develop as an entrepreneur? Ignorance. I think a lot of folks are spending way too much energy trying to know it all. They’re trying to be over-informed. Soaking up every piece of advice. Following every story, watching every video. Trying to understand too many things about how things currently work. Who’s doing what, what the latest techniques are, which list of steps to follow, etc. You’ll make something new when you’re new. You’ll make something also when your mind is filled with other people’s ideas.“ - Jason Fried

So how to mentor an entrepreneur?

  1. Understand that it is a serious commitment, could be a long one. If you’re not passionate to be part of this journey, don’t even start.
  2. Optimally, you already know them for years, you know how they think, what they love, what they are passionate about. On the other hand, you understand that this a process, they will evolve, grow up, they are going to fall and rise. If you don’t know them very well, get to know them, drink beer with them.
  3. Teach them the basic rules and needed soft skills in this business.
  4. Help them build the company based on their who they are, if it will be successful company, it will be mostly because of them. Let build it the way they believe it should be built. Amplify what they are good at, they will learn how to fill the gap in everything else.
  5. Don’t stop them from doing mistakes, if you think they will do a mistake and you were actually right, then great, plus one for you. Trust them, they will learn from it, and so thus you.
  6. Deeply intervene only when it’s a dead-or-alive scenario. Any strict decision you do, make you accountable for it, at least in the entrepreneur’s mind.
  7. Make your connections as their asset, a rather strong one.
  8. Ask them hard questions, make them think, but keep positiveness, optimism and productivity. It sucks to be the person who break their spirit. Momentum, momentum, momentum.

Lucky to me, I feel I found 2-3 great mentors who are doing the right to help me move forward in the right direction.


Now read this

Keep Calm and Carry On

When I was promoted from a team leader of a small research team to a group leader, leading developers, qa, ux and the product, I discovered that my the biggest challenge was meeting my own self expectations of being a manager and a... Continue →