Entrepreneurship is an empowering journey. While you need to take the responsibility of your actions and decisions, it is important to build an army along the way to take you forward. Though this is not something new, in the last year, I have learned that it is extremely important to also surround yourself with people who might not form a part of your team, but can still be integral to your success.
They are not always your mentors. They come in all shapes and forms, but they will be central to you, or what I call your personal advisory board. If I really think about it, you could classify them into three personas — the Mentor, the Realist, and the Confidant. And all the three personas are needed to help you move forward.
The Mentor bridges the gap between where you are and where you need to be by sharing their knowledge and mentoring you. They would be a person who has spent years in a similar field and has relatable expertise. They believe in you and your vision from the first day. They primarily come with the mindset of giving back and view you as someone who they can shape to create a dent in society. Keep them close, and surround yourself with at least a handful to gain the best from each.
And then comes the Realist — several people stay away from them or see them more as a threat to their ideas rather than an aid. In my view, do not deter from speaking to the Realists. They are just as important as the Mentors. They do not sugarcoat and help you see a side that you might not want to or be willing to.
A Realist is someone with extensive domain knowledge who can hold up a mirror to show why your strategy might not work and what could go wrong. Bring together a few of these to improve your thesis. But be careful at the same time — do not let them drain you. Take their advice with a grain of salt, pick things that can help you, but filter out the ones that might stop you from moving ahead.
This is the most important one in my view. They are the ones who make your journey a little more comfortable, are there to listen to you when pessimism has surrounded you, and are the ones you can be completely honest with. When you’re building something, it involves blood, sweat, and tears. And you need someone you can depend on — the Confidant.
They are usually people in your innermost circle. People with whom you can share the dirt, be real, or just open a bottle of beer. They don’t have to be from your industry, but just someone with a pair of ears and a patient heart to lift up your spirits. They help pull you together and keep you moving when things are not going right.