Meet the Mentors!

    Ric Tenor is a mentor

    Norris Krueger, PhD  Photo Kimberlee Miller

    Thanks for all the great responses to the first iteration of “Meet the Mentors” – I am grateful, the mentors are grateful, and Greenbelt’s advertisers are grateful! In keeping with Greenbelt Magazine’s joyous coverage of Boise’s great innovators, I’m also honored to celebrate the best mentors in the area! Like the last three, you may not know them… but you should.

    A quick update on our first three mentors. Joe Bonocore and his team are starting projects to assist public utilities, he and I are creating a research report series with a focus on helping growth companies, and his mentee, Leif Elgethun of Retrolux, just pitched for $250,000 at Salesforce’s Dreampitch. Karen Appelgren continues to grow the Zions Business Resource Center. And Simon Mahler was the leadoff keynoter for SCORE’s national online webinar for small businesses that drew well over 10,000 participants.

    This month I bring you Ric Tener, who offered a reflection on the first “Meet the Mentors” and emphasizes the most important takeaways from his lengthy perspective. Ric’s resume would fill multiple pages here (more than 40 years experience) including a heavy dose of healthcare successes but he currently has a diverse portfolio of businesses that he is helping to get from launch to funding.

    Ric offers the ability to ask the hard questions—not just tough questions, but the right ones. He is excellent at zeroing in on a venture’s strengths and weaknesses. Better still, he is amazing at seeing what a venture’s future strengths and weaknesses will be. Being able to see over the horizon is a remarkable skill. Finally, add in an equally remarkable ability to read people.

    Ric Tener
    Here are Ric’s thoughts on the mentoring process, in large part, a deep reflection on the first set of mentors’ comments.
    What do entrepreneurs (mentees) need to know when choosing mentors?

    The first thing you will notice is that there is a plural in the title.  There is no single answer or person when searching for knowledge and support in building a business.  To start, you must know your personal strengths, and more importantly your weaknesses.  What you don’t know is far more important than what you do.

    Mentors Who Help Your Weaknesses: Entrepreneurs are dreamers by nature, but need to be pragmatists to achieve success in business. Mentors must provide support where you or your team lacks expertise.  Whether the weakness is business planning and development, market analysis, sales, investor relations, finance, legal, etc., these are the type of experts you need to seek out. Work outside your comfort zone, as an individual or a team, and go where you would rather not.

    Where Are You in the Lifecycle? The next thing in choosing a mentor, is determining where you are in the entrepreneurial process.  Are you a startup, early-stage development, emerging growth, mature-in-transition, etc.? Have you developed a business plan for moving forward?  If not, then the obvious choice of a mentor is someone that can help you create your plans.

    You Need a Road Map! Without it, you just have a dream. With it, you have a road map to measure where you are going, and if you are on track to attaining your goals. The road map may be wrong, but you will know quickly and avoid wasting time, effort, and capital following the wrong road. Business plans are fluid, and should be constantly evaluated.

    You Need an Honest mentor! A critical factor in choosing the right mentor is one who is not emotionally attached to the ideas, product, or services of the entrepreneur’s business. What they must bring to the relationship is the demand for innovation and change to improve the business.  There is a wise saying regarding success in business. “Kill your cash cow before someone else does.”  Every successful business does this.  It is called innovation and evolution. Make sure you choose mentors with that guiding principle for building your business.

    Ric Tener
    R.T. Tener & Associates

    Hard to disagree with any of Ric’s points. Iis so critical that you and your mentors are in alignment and that the mentors are committed more to you than to being “The Mentor.” What’s next? We have more mentors lined up for future issues of Greenbelt Magazine, so stay tuned.

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