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By Michele Scism
The Results Lady

If you're just starting out in online business or have very specific needs, you may want to forego the traditional accountability partnership and choose to work with a paid mentor instead (picture a Business Coach). Mentors, like accountability partners, come in all shapes, sizes, experience levels, specialties, and personalities. While you can expect to pay anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars for the privilege of working with a mentor, the relationship can earn you back your investment many times over, in saved time and sound business advice. Following are the basics of what you need to know about mentors:

Pros: You have someone completely focused on you and your needs, so you can save a lot of time and effort. Because your mentor has successfully navigated the path you're treading, he or she can give you the benefit of their experience and save you a lot of time and money. Good mentors also often have wide networks and can share these connections with you. Hopefully your mentor has reached a level of success where he or she can help you to avoid mistakes and give solid advice. Too often, accountability partners are both at a level where they aren't making money yet, so it's a case of the blind leading the blind. Obviously you can avoid that situation by hiring a successful mentor to coach you down the road you're on.

Cons: Instead of “paying” for your partner's assistance by reciprocating his or her support, you will pay with cash, so if you're in the start-up phase and your wallet is a tad on the thin side, you may have trouble footing the bill. Also, mentors are, understandably so, biased to their own experiences. If something worked for them, they're inclined to recommend it to you, even though another option may be a better fit. No matter whether you're hiring the best “guru” in the business or a marketer who's doing well who you look up to, never blindly follow advice for this very reason.

Suggestions: Choose your mentor carefully! Make sure you resonate with him or her not just in terms of what they've accomplished, but in terms of their personality, ethics, and work style, too. Also, choose someone not just on what they tell you they've done right, but based on the mistakes they're willing to share, too.

Almost every successful business person, online and off, will tell you that getting a mentor was one of the best things they've done to advance their business rapidly. A great mentor can save you years and thousands of dollars in getting your business off the ground and growing, and can hold you accountable for your progress, too.