What are the benefits of having a mentor?

In every entrepreneurial biography you peruse, the question of what’s the benefit of having a mentor continually pops up. And the reason for that is, that a mentor is crucial to an entrepreneur’s develop and success.

Much like a hiker who is about to take on a harsh terrain, which is foreign to them, seeks out a guide, it’s the wise entrepreneur who doesn’t continually try to learn everything first hand. Someone who has come out the other side of the difficulties you are currently experiencing and survived will have invaluable knowledge to pass on — these are the benefits of having a mentor. It just doesn’t make much sense to go through the pain yourself rather than consult a business adviser and learn quickly. The reality would be thousands of entrepreneurs trying to reinvent the wheel, getting to the spokes and giving up because it’s too hard. There are plenty of people who are happy to give you the finished wheel and let you improve on it — you just need to find a mentor.

The climber who reaches the peak of Everest with a sherpa showing her the way, still conquers the mountain.

A mentor or adviser’s role is to increase your confidence and the best way they can do that is to listen and then relate their experience. They facilitate learning and maximise your potential. As the American poet Robert Frost so eloquently put it: “I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”

Great advisers ask difficult questions. Every entrepreneur has the answers they need inside them. Sometimes it’s just hard to bring those solutions to the fore, with any clarity, on your own. Your mentor should not tell you what to do but explore the scenario with you until you feel happy with your options and decisions. Think Morpheus and Neo in The Matrix. Not once does Morpheus tell Neo directly what to do, he gives him wisdom and insight until Neo sees the answer for himself.

As motivational speaker Zig Zaglar once said: “ A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”

Take time over finding and selecting an adviser, mentor or coach. It’s a key relationship in your life and it’s just as important for you to get on with them as it is to judge them on their credentials. Put yourself in places where you are more likely to bump into or begin a chat with a potential mentor. Ask them if they would like to meet again over lunch or a coffee. Don’t rush in with a direct ‘Will you be my mentor?’ type question. Let the relationship grow.

The same applies if you are selecting a professional advisor. Take time and make sure you feel comfortable with them. It really will keep you on track and propel you forward.

As the great mentor Yoda would say, ‘motivated you will be’.