By Paul Keijzer
Being an entrepreneur, owning your own business and being your own boss is a dream we all wish to make a reality. There’s no doubt to the fact that it’s exciting, exhilarating and fun to create something from scratch. A business that’s your own. It’s a journey you can embark on alone (for the most part). However, in reality, this isn’t a journey you can ride on your own. Sure, you need to build a team to support your business. But that’s not what I’m talking about. While you may be your own boss, there are several aspects of running a business and developing it that may require you to turn to a mentor for help.
Sure you’re smart, creative and innovative. You may have a solution, product or service that’s unique. You may be highly skilled and brilliant at what you do. But to truly develop your business into a sustainable one – and one that can grow exponentially – you’ll need guidance from someone who knows just how to do that.
While most of us feel that we’re smart enough to be able to handle difficult situations and make the right business decisions, a mentor can provide us valuable lessons and insight that can positively impact our entrepreneurial journey. Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, found a mentor in Eric Schmidt. A little-known fact is that Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg in the early years of Facebook. Steve Jobs himself was mentored by Mike Markkula, an early investor and senior executive at Apple. I’ve personally and professionally benefited a great deal from the several mentors I’ve had over the years. Here are 5 reasons why you and everyone needs a mentor:
1. Vast Knowledge and Experience
Entrepreneurs often feel that they’re on top of the world with their novel and innovative ideas. Yet, even with your brilliance, there are certain intricacies of starting and running a business that challenge the best of us. Be it daily operations, building a team, preparing a business plan, establishing budgets, making strategic decisions or even marketing your product running a business isn’t easy, especially on your own. Tapping into the vast knowledge and experience that a mentor can provide you the much-needed support to get things in order. Mentors can guide you, help you learn and understand business matters and definitely shorten your learning curve. More importantly, they’ll help you avoid making the same mistakes they may have made. Basically, seasoned mentors have much more experience and knowledge they can educate you on the business acumen that you need to succeed.
2. Access to a Wide Network
In the business world knowing the right people is important. As a young and aspiring entrepreneur connecting with the right people is pivotal for your business to flourish. Sure you may have a strong network within your circle, however, you won’t have access to business leaders outside it. That limits your ability to expand your horizon and reach. You can leverage your mentor’s connections, network and reputation to your advantage and propel your business’s growth based on that platform. Plus with their experience they can see which connections can be beneficial or unfavorable to you. Most importantly, though, mentors can connect you to already successful business leaders who can elevate your growth.
3. Insight and Perspective
You know how to really solve a problem there are two ways to go about it: either you dive deep into the details or you step away and get a bird’s eye view of the problem. Mentors can provide you just that – an outsider’s perspective that’s valuable and pivotal to helping you seek the solution. And with their abundance of experience and wealth of wisdom you’re very likely to value the insight and perspective provided by your mentor. More than “telling” you what the solution is, mentors can just about ask the right questions that’ll guide you towards it. Don’t be fooled by your mentor’s old-fashioned way of doing things. Though they may not be tech savvy, mentors have a deeper understanding of the business world that earns them the ability to have more meaningful insight which you can learn a great deal from.
4. Help You Improve and Grow
If you were to let go of your ego you’ll realize that mentors have an uncanny way of highlighting your weaknesses with brutal honesty. As a leader and entrepreneur we all need to be told where we’re at fault, have our mistakes highlighted and told where to improve. All this is essential for growth and development – both personal and professional. Remember that such constructive criticism isn’t coming from your peers or competitors, but from someone who’s vastly more experienced and who’s looking out for your best interest. So, instead of sulking over your shortcomings, use the insight you’ve gained about yourself as encouragement to improve, grow and become stronger. As a leader who’s consistently seeking growth, you’ll need an ally on your side who can keep a check on you and guide you towards success through constant self-improvement.
5. Trusted Advisers
The business world is pretty cutthroat and shrewd and it’s hard to know who you can trust and rely on for true advice. When you have proprietary information and intellectual property concerns it’s a blessing to have a mentor on your side who you confide in. Consider them as sounding boards who you can bounce ideas off. Through their unfiltered opinions mentors can help you clear your thoughts. Sometimes you just need to blurt out your ideas and mentors can help you align your thoughts and iron out the rough edges. They are after all helping you succeed so the chances of your mentor betraying your trust are quite slim.
Keep in mind that having a mentor isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s a sign of a strong leader who’s aware that to continue growing they’ll need the support and guidance of a strong, capable and experienced mentor. By putting aside your pride and arrogance and finding a great mentor you’re setting yourself up to become the best version of yourself and become a great leader.