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Chris Cangero By Chris Cangero • June 15, 2020

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Mastermind: Recognizing the Value

What is the value of a mentor? First, there are the easy answers: the knowledge, experience, and skill set. In the end, though, all that is important is what they can bring to your business because programs like Mastermind are asking a startup to invest luxury capital.

Startups (typically) don’t have luxury capital, and there has to be a real good reason to invest. There has to be a real value. And the value is the tremendous amount of industry and insider experience that is only available when you spend your career in a specific industry. And that is not always easy to find.

It’s like the idea that there are plenty of people out in the job market. You can always go out and place an ad, which will return a list of applicants. Great! But that is only step one. What is the hardest part of getting a list of resumes? Filtering through and finding which candidate is going to be the best one to help push your business forward -- and that’s not easy to find. You can get 400 resumes, go through them all, and still not find the perfect fit. Just because there are options out there and there are candidates out there does not mean they’re going to be the right fit.

That is where you get lucky with Cathy Kenton. Mastermind provides this very experienced individual who has a tremendous amount of value to add. Industry-specific knowledge, relationships, connections, all of those things come together, and then you’re able to capture her for a certain period of time once a week. You’re committed.

Given that, the financial relationship is reasonable on both sides. But again, startups have no luxury capital. So you’re doing this by your bootstraps, and you’re going out there and saying, is this consulting session going to return the value that I need?

That is always going to be a bit of a gamble because before you start working with someone, you don’t know where it will lead. But I am very happy that I took that gamble. And I’m very appreciative of the knowledge and experience, and the contributions that Cathy has made towards the business.

These contributions have helped push the company to the next level. Although you can’t quantify that monetarily in the short term, in the long term, the program has returned and will continue to return. It’s one of those things where you have a certain amount of funding, and how you distribute those funds is really important. Each decision that you make has a consequence and a benefit.

Will that benefit outweigh the consequence? You can’t know.  As an entrepreneur, you have to take chances, believe in your instincts, and use the information you have at the time to make an informed decision that will benefit the long-term strategy. I could not be happier with the decision that I made, to take the money we didn’t have and invest it in this program, which  has returned so many tangible results.