When you come up with that big idea there may be questions you need help with or during your invention journey, there may be times where you may feel like you just hit a brick wall. You scour the internet looking for answers from the right person or company to help you and are hesitant to get anyone else involved. At some point on your venture, you will need to connect with someone to help you take your invention to the next level. A mentor can be there to coach you through the invention process, help make decisions and connect you to various resources.
Characteristics of a Mentor
A mentor is someone who has walked a mile in your shoes. Because he or she has stood where you are standing now, the wisdom you can acquire from a mentor is not random knowledge – it is specific to your needs. A mentor can be a sounding board that you can share your ideas in their formative stages and gain valuable insights and fresh perspectives from someone who knows where you are coming from and where you hope to go.
A mentor holds the key to your future networks of colleagues and collaborators. His or her stature in the community will leverage your credibility; introductions he or she makes will open new doors for you. You can look to them as a friend, someone who has your best interests at heart; someone whose agenda includes you.
Where to Find a Mentor
You will come across likely candidates each time you speak to an established professional whose work and work ethic impresses you. How do you get them to help you? You ask. You’ll be surprised at how eager many of them will be to invest their time and energy in someone who is working hard to achieve a dream. Why will they do that? Because someone once invested their time and energy in them.
Another way to find the mentor who may be helpful to you is to think of the people who have the most impact on you when you’re all alone, reading and researching. I’m talking about the authors whose books, articles or opinions make the most sense to you. If their words have that kind of influence on you, imagine how helpful it would be if you could pick up the phone and get their insights and advice when a particular issue completely baffles you!
Connecting with a Mentor
In many cases, mentors are in business themselves. Their contact information is readily available, either because it is attached to their book, their article or their blog. You can also contact the source that published them. Newspapers and periodicals, information websites, TV and radio shows all have public access information. Publishers usually have an “About the Author” page on their websites as well.
Working with a Mentor
Before you pick up the phone or send that email inquiry, however, make sure you know what you’d like this individual to do for you. Many experts offer their services for an hourly fee, so don’t be surprised if your query generates a price list of consulting services in return. Others may have agendas and are using their books and advice columns to build ancillary businesses. This may not be the kind of relationship you are looking for. Still others may be willing to work with you in exchange for a percentage of the royalties your product will earn; they may even be interested in a percentage of your business, if you have more than one concept in development and your company is well grounded.
You are going to be connecting with design engineering, licensing, manufacturing and distribution while working on your invention. Every now and then you will be speaking to someone you feel a real connection with and you’ll hear that little voice inside your head saying, “I wish this was my mentor!” When that happens, the first thing you should do is ask them if they ever take on the role of mentor and if so, would they be interested in mentoring you. In exchange for their help, you can offer them percentages on your royalties and/or in your business..