Having a mentor (or a whole bunch!) while building a company is essential. Surveys have shown that 70 percent of small businesses that receive mentorship survive past the first five years and 88 percent of those receiving mentorship say that mentorship is invaluable.
A mentor can encompass several things in one: a teacher, a confidant, a coach. The relationship can be formal or informal. They can have a specialty or just offer general business experience. One thing is sure: no two are alike. An effective mentor will have a powerful influence on your entrepreneurial life and future success, so we came up with six benefits that you’ll gain from a great mentor-mentee relationship.
Gain some perspective
As a startup owner, viewing your issue from the eyes of someone else (e.g. a customer) is a learned skill. You can become blind to the things you see every day or spend too much time second guessing or overthinking. As you get to know your ideal consumer better, you’ll find that it gets easier. For now, however, a mentor can provide that alternative perspective that you need.
Advice from someone who’s “been there, done that”
“As a first time entrepreneur specifically, you haven’t been through it and there’s so many things that you can avoid just by having a short conversation with someone that’s been through it before,” said Thiago Olsen, FinTech entrepreneur.
Advice based on experience is the best kind. Your mentor offers a unique point of view, different from those who have never been in their position as a business owner. You’ll find that advice — often unsolicited — comes from every avenue, but quality advice is a dime a dozen. Mentors can offer advice on business matters such as seeking investments, hiring, partnering and several other complicated business matters with confidence.
Knowing you have someone in your corner is a confidence booster in itself, but knowing you have someone experienced and credible in your corner is even better. Going into a nerve wracking pitch becomes easier when you know you’ve had great coaching. Not only that, but a pat on the back after a job well done feels great.
Gain other relationships
“When you start showing up in the community, more and more faces will become familiar, making it easier to connect with potential mentors. Networking becomes routine,” said Kim Crayton on building relationships as a founder.
Networking is key in the business world. Your mentor is likely to have an already-built network that they can let you in. Simply having an introduction from your mentor can create a new relationship that opens doors for you and your business that you couldn’t have opened yourself. You can also utilize the relationships to find other mentors, investors, partners, and more. Don’t depend completely on your mentor, though, you still have to do some networking on your own!
Learn some new skills
Many mentors will have advanced skills in a certain area that you can benefit from. There’s only so much experience and knowledge that can be gained in a short time, but your mentor has been in your shoes for longer. They’ll help you perfect your business skills and teach you how to run your company correctly.
“In this space (for the most part), failure is not only accepted, it’s seen as a badge of honor. Founders may fail, give up, pivot, re-pivot and start over in less than 12 months,” said Chad Strickland, human capital executive, attorney, and author.
Throughout the startup process, you’re likely to experience a failure here and there. But you don’t want to have to go through it alone. A mentor has experienced these failures first hand and can advise you on how to stay motivated. If you can see that they survived through their hardships, it can be a great sign that you’ll be fine too.
Feature image via Shutterstock.