Marty Zwilling is the Founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that educates and aids startup founders worldwide. Marty has experience as an executive in general management, computer software development, product management, and marketing. He has also authored the book, “Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneur?”
Sam’s Dream Blog: You have written that a young man or woman shouldn’t ask too much of a mentor, even though the mentee could stand to learn a lot. Yet someone in their twenties should be seeking a lot of advice. How does he or she narrow which aspects to pursue in mentoring?
Marty Zwilling: A good mentee, in my opinion, shows respect for the mentor by doing his own homework first so the questions don’t have obvious answers available from other sources, and doesn’t ask the mentor to make all his decisions for him. Generic questions, like how do I get rich quick, are not impressive. Asking your mentor to do your business plan won’t work. A good common sense rule is to pretend the roles were reversed, and think how you would feel if used the same way.
SDB: You have also said that a startup needs to be relevant, a startup must gain traction, a startup needs to build community. How does a startup do this if it does not have a product or service to sell initially?
Marty Zwilling: If you really don’t believe you have anything to sell, then you don’t have a business. You may still be doing a good thing, by providing inspiration or educating people in need. On the other hand, I’ve heard of blogs that bring their authors income in the six figure range, from advertising, or provide brand building for well-paid speakers or book authors. My advice is not to start a business without first having a clear view in your mind of the problem you are solving, how you make money, who your customer is, etc. Then write a business plan to see if all the elements fit together.