To start a business you need a good idea, sound technical knowledge, a bit of business experience and some start-up cash in hand. But to be a successful entrepreneur, you need a good mentor whom you can turn to for solid business advice.
It can be a single person or a support system of individuals who are genuinely interested in your success. Good mentors actually invest in your business by passing on their knowledge.
If you are still not convinced, consider some of these famous mentor- mentee relationships:
- Socrates was the mentor of Plato
- Aristotle mentored Alexander The Great
- Benjamin Graham mentored Warren Buffet
- Steve Jobs mentored Marc Benioff
- Larry Page mentored Marissa Myers
How Mentors Help Your Business Grow
A good mentor comes with expert-level experience. He is confident and practical, but it is his expertise that you need to bank on. That being said, you do not necessarily need a big name as your mentor. In fact, an industry veteran may not be a good match as your mentor, especially during the early days.
What you need is an individual who has real experience of handling the actual work and hustles involved in a start-up. A big name may not be able to help you there apart from serving as an impressive name on your business brochure. Instead, look for someone who has skills and expertise you lack.
Since a good mentor has been a successful entrepreneur (or still is), he can walk in your shoes and help you sail smoothly through to the other side. In fact, the best mentors will help you see things you tend to overlook, be it a potential opportunity, a threat or a market risk. This is the person you look up to, your inspiration and probably you also see yourself succeeding exactly the way your mentor did.
There are various ways your mentor helps your business. But most importantly, he need to understand the problems and challenges your start-up is facing today, some of which he has perhaps faced himself as a young entrepreneur at some point. The following are some of the ways a mentor can help young entrepreneurs.
Understanding Financial Management
As a start-up, one of the biggest challenges you are likely to face is maintaining cash-flow. “Cash is king” for an early stage entrepreneur but this is also the most challenging aspect for them to deal with. Things will hardly go as expected and being uncomfortable with figures will only make the situation worse. With a good mentor in place you will better manage your cash and if required focus on rising outside financing instead of burning cash.
Better Time Management
As an entrepreneur, you will have your plates full especially during the initial years. Your to-do list will be filled with hundreds of things, often making you feel overwhelmed. But you need to attend each of them effectively and patiently. Remember quick-fixes or rushes won’t help you in the long run, no matter how tempting they might look now. You mentor will teach you to prioritize each task and delegate them to the right person to ensure that the work is done efficiently. In short, he will probably teach you the best lesson of project management.
To Remain Focused
Starting a business is an excitement event. As said, you are likely to get caught up in so many things and lose the focus. As a result, you tend to neglect the bigger picture and get busy with unimportant details. Mentors can help you remain focused as well as alert you about blind spots, if any, that may affect your business adversely. Most of the time, a little distance can make all the difference in such cases.
To be successful in business you need to create connections and develop relationships with industry players. After all you need to have partners and be friends with the right people to be successful in the long haul. It is however a scary thing for a newbie (more so if you’re inexperienced) to break into an industry and approaching established players in order to build your network. But your mentor is already a successful entrepreneur and is (most likely) from the same industry. He therefore knows people around and will help you break the ice.
Starting a business is one thing but running it successfully and surviving the cut-throat competition is another. There is no denying that young entrepreneurs are often quite the genius, but it is hardly possible for one to know everything. Besides, expertise and experience, a mentor can further enhance their ideas and help them win over the competition, making it a rewarding relationship to nurture.