Entrepreneurs take immense pride in the companies they have built—as rightly they should! An important aspect of entrepreneurship, though—one that doesn’t get discussed nearly enough—is that very few people ever build a business entirely on their own.
In fact, entrepreneurs who try to do everything themselves tend to burn out fairly quickly. That’s why outsourcing, smart recruiting, and delegation are all so important. But it’s also why it matters for entrepreneurs to enlist mentors—outsiders who can provide expertise, guidance, and constructive feedback as needed.
Why Look for a Mentor?
It is important to realize that a mentor is not just a buddy. A mentor is a key asset for your startup, and there are several reasons to actively seek one out. Consider the following.
A mentor can offer perspective. Part of launching a successful business is having a plan for the future—a sense of how your business can scale and grow. It’s hard to predict your future, of course, and you’re never going to be able to do so with any accuracy—but a mentor who’s in your industry may have some personal insights into what you might look for a year, five years, 10 years down the road.
A mentor knows people. Do you need to collaborate with other people in your industry? To form a relationship with key vendors or distributors? To find a business building for rent, and to get a good price? These connections can all be hard to come by if you’re new in your industry or simply new in town—but a good mentor will know people who might be able to open some further doors for you.
A mentor can help you with the particulars. You may know your product or your niche backward and forward—but how much do you know about accounting? Legalities? Marketing? With these key skillsets, a mentor can offer advice, help you solve specific problems, or simply refer you to a good consultant.
A mentor will challenge you. As you share your plans and your procedures with your mentor, you’ll quickly find that one of the most valuable questions you’ll ever be asked is… why are you doing this? A mentor will poke and prod at you and make sure you have a reason, a goal in mind, for everything you’re doing—that all of your undertakings and projects fit into the big picture. That’s just the kind of pushback that young entrepreneurs need.
Finding a mentor can clearly be beneficial in ways both practical and ephemeral—so what are you waiting for? Invest in a mentor relationship today; consider it a key investment in the future of your business.