As an entrepreneur, still wet behind the ears, there is only so much you know about starting a business. Nevermind your MBA and all you’ve read in entrepreneurship books and websites, you don’t know what you don’t know. Nothing compares the real-world experience that a mentor brings to the table.
Good mentors have a better, and more intimate knowledge of how business works. If they happen to have succeeded in the same space you are attempting to venture into, even better.
A research by the entrepreneur support platform, Endeavor Insight, shows that having a mentor could increase a founder’s odds of success more than anything else.
Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Your relationship with a mentor or a group of mentors does that for you.
That’s a high-level advantage of having a mentor – which is great – but there is more. More advantages are listed below:
1. Impartial advice on processes
However you slice it, the mentor in your industry has a sharper domain knowledge of the business than you do. Your mentor can give you practical advice on how you can set up your workflow to be most effective. Their knowledge of tested methods for creating an effective workflow is priceless.
You may not take their word as the gospel especially when the age difference between the both of you is wider, but their perspective helps you rethink your processes.
2. A support framework
Most mentor-mentee relationships advance beyond business. The best ones extend to family.
Although rare, it’s these kinds that provide a rounded support framework for an entrepreneur.
For all the nights you carped about the unfairness of the entrepreneurial struggle, and felt you’ve arrived at the point where throwing in the towel is the only way forward, a mentor can provide you with a different perspective. Or perhaps support your decision based on their experience of the same dip.
Whichever, you have a sounding board and a filter to feed your decision through.
3. Industry Connects
Your mentor can open some doors that would be inaccessible otherwise. Because they have had a longer time in the industry, they have an impressive Rolodex. They can introduce you to an investor or from their list of mentees, refer highly rated talent to work with you.
They can scale up your cool points in the industry based on your affiliations with them.
4. Improving self-confidence
Your self-confidence as an entrepreneur determines how well you will function in your role. While you are naturally confident, you have to admit there are days when confidence is in short supply.
On such days, knowing you have a seasoned mentor on your team helps you lock on to your convictions. When your mentor has signed off on a course of action, you find it easy to figure out execution strategy. His approval has made you more confident in your own decision.
A lot of successes in business is not about how great a course of action is, but how it is executed. With a fair dose of confidence, an entrepreneur can stand by his decision. And when things are going south, he admits his wrongs and set a new course. It’s all about gut and grit.
5. Professional growth
Getting advice from this older, more experienced player in your space means you are appropriating all their experiences and living many steps ahead of your peers who didn’t have the same luxury.
Of course, there is no shortage of advice from friends, family, your local pastor…your mom. However, only a few are as relevant as ones taught to you by a mentor who has been there, done that and has the t-shirt to prove it. The stories will help you internalize their lessons.
Before you begin a mentor-mentee relationship, know that your mentor’s quality matters and that the relationship requires a sustained effort at communicating clearly, openly and honestly.
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Featured Image via TechCabal / Kunmi Owopetu