6 Important Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Need Mentors
When you’re a new entrepreneur, it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you’re fully independent, in complete command of your business, and that you don’t need any help — after all, you became an entrepreneur because you wanted to be your own boss. Other entrepreneurs might realize they could use some help, but they’re too proud to admit it.
Either attitude will hold you back, because it’s impossible to go it alone when you’re an entrepreneur. A mentor can even be vital to the success of your business. Here’s why you should identify a mentor as your first priority.
Experience, insight, and knowledge
Enthusiasm, ideas, and energy are never in short supply for entrepreneurs taking their initial steps into the business world, but those attributes need to be counterbalanced by experience and deep expertise, no matter how talented or smart you are.
Experience can’t be gained by reading books or taking classes, though these can be helpful resources — you simply can’t replace the greater insight, knowledge, and instincts that come with real-world experience. In addition, a mentor can translate their experience to your unique situation; they’ll know what advice is applicable to your business. No book, website, or class can do this. While setbacks and mistakes are inevitable to the process of gaining experience, a mentor can offer their own knowledge and insight to help you avoid fatal mistakes and overcome setbacks.
By turning to a mentor who has successfully navigated their way through a similar business journey, you’re equipping yourself with the tools to carve out your own success.
Reassurance, guidance, and encouragement
While many entrepreneurs turn to mentors seeking guidance for business decisions, just as important is a mentor’s ability to provide reassurance, support, and encouragement. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely experience, particularly at the early stages of a business venture; even the most stalwart person can succumb to doubt. A mentor who is not financially or emotionally involved in your business, but nevertheless knows your situation, can provide impartial encouragement and emotional support. The business world is also full of people who will test your trust, so having a mentor you trust absolutely can be a huge source of relief — you’ll never be alone.
Increased chances of success
There have been several studies and surveys that indicate entrepreneurs who have mentors have better chances of long-term, sustainable business success.
A study by the nonprofit organization Endeavor found that business owners who had been mentored by a top-performing entrepreneur were three times more likely to become top performers themselves.
Meanwhile, a separate study by Kabbage, Inc., found that 92 percent of small business owners who had a mentor agreed that their mentor was crucial to the success of their business.
Other research to support the importance of mentorship includes a study conducted by Sage, who surveyed 11,000 small- and medium- sized business owners from 17 countries and found that 93 percent acknowledged that mentors help them succeed.
Getting yourself and your business in front of the right people can be a huge challenge for entrepreneurs in the early stages of business development.
However, by connecting with a mentor who already has their own large network and access to influential contacts, entrepreneurs can tap into these invaluable resources. These connections are perhaps the most significant benefits of a mentor: a word with the right investor, an introduction to an excellent hire, or a connection to a potential client or customer.
Improve key skills
Successful entrepreneurs are never done with learning and developing new skills that can aid in their business. Of course, it’s critical to delegate many functions, and you can’t be an expert in everything, but you’ll still need to employ a variety of skills as your business grows. A good mentor can help you acquire or improve these skills.
For example, a mentor can help you improve broader skills, like communication, delegation, time management, and leadership, as well as help you improve in more specific areas like hiring, strategizing, sales, finance, and so on.
Mentorship is (usually) free.
There are plenty of online courses and monthly subscriptions that promise world-class mentoring, and while these programs may work for some people, the most effective form of mentorship is a personal, one-to-one relationship where the mentor is motivated not by money, but by the opportunity to share their wisdom and experience to help a fellow entrepreneur succeed.
Networking events, industry conferences and trade shows, volunteering events, local nonprofits, and even your LinkedIn or other social media connections are a few potential places to find a mentor. Other sources include Ten Thousand Coffees, SCORE, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC).
Mentoring is a form of “paying it forward” as most entrepreneurs successful enough to take on mentorship roles have either been mentored themselves — or wish they had been.