As an entrepreneur you have to manage your own business. Unlike with salaried employees, there is no other person you can ask for advice and advice. So how do you do that when you have questions about growth, layoffs or personal development? That's where the mentor comes in.

Suzanne Janssen of the University of Twente researched mentors who assist people with advice based on their own experience. According to her, there are roughly two types of mentors: a career mentor, who is focused on advice about your work, and a psychosocial mentor, who is ready for problems that affect your functioning.

Janssen emphasizes that a combination of the two yields the most. "Success stands or falls partly with who you are. If you only talk about your turnover, you miss that part."

The two types of advice do not always have to come from one mentor. "It is rarely the case that one person can help you with all your questions. Tactically it is therefore also smart to ensure that you build a network of people who can help you."

"I know where I want to go, sometimes I just don't know how." Tessa Rijn, founder of the Taskhero employment agency

Help every Monday for a year

For example, Tessa Rijn, founder of employment agency Taskhero, had a mentor who helped her when her company started to grow rapidly. "He came every Monday for a year to help me."

In addition, she has been assisted by Arno Vis, an entrepreneur she met on a leadership weekend for four years. "He recognized my behavior; he was like that fifteen years before." They now call once every few months. "I know where I want to go, sometimes I just don't know how."

According to Rijn, the added value lies in Vis's many years of experience. "He has experienced what I encounter hundreds of times and can therefore advise me objectively."

Mentor found via via

How do you find a good mentor? This is often done informally. "You bump into each other somewhere, notice that there is a click and ask if someone can help you more often," explains Janssen.

Joran Iedema, co-founder of savings app Dyme, found his mentor that way too. "I happened to know him through a friend." Hans van der Noordaa, former director of ING's retail division, heard about the company and was eager to help Iedema and his co-founders.

First of all, that help was business. "He helped us get a license from De Nederlandsche Bank." When the first contacts were made, his years of experience in the business world also came in handy. The most important lesson that Iedema learned? "Think from the other side if you want to enter into a partnership. What does that person want and how can I offer that?"

"Many people are willing to contribute ideas with enthusiasm and a good idea." Joran Iedema, co-founder of the Dyme app

Fresh look from the outside

It can be an advantage if someone comes from the same industry, says Janssen. But she emphasizes that too direct competition is not useful. "Moreover, a fresh look from outside your own sector can be good."

According to Rijn, it is especially important in the relationship with your mentor that you take each other seriously. "The personal click is important, it also ensures that a mentor wants to invest more time in you."

Iedema also advises people to bet high. "Especially as a starting entrepreneur, you may think that successful people will not have time for you. But with enthusiasm and a good idea, many people are willing to contribute."