The Importance of Having a Business Mentor
“No man is an island.” - John Donne
The need to do everything by oneself is a commonality amongst us entrepreneurs.
Call it blind ambition. Call it hubris.
Regardless of what you call it, it does us more harm than good in the long run.
It’s time we faced a hard truth: we don’t have all the answers. There will be times when we’ll need help and advice. There will be times when we hesitate, second guess, or question ourselves. This is good: a sign of a smart entrepreneur is knowing that they cannot always know everything they need to know to succeed.
So, how do you move forward, grow, and learn as an entrepreneur?
By finding a mentor.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is a person who has had the experience you have yet to acquire. They will have the hindsight you’re missing. They’ll have an abundance of past mistakes and successes you can learn from. A mentor has seen it all; they’ve been through a lot personally and professionally.
They’ll tell you the hard truths that your peers can’t, because they’ll already know the consequences of your decisions before you make them. But most importantly, they want to help you succeed. They’ve reached a level of personal success and fulfilment that they’ve decided to pass it on.
They genuinely care about you and your future.
That’s what makes the relationship authentic. You should never force a mentorship. This is why just finding the right mentor is half the battle.
Let’s dive into that:
How to find a mentor
When looking for mentorship, it’s natural we would want to aim high. But reaching out to the biggest names in your industry for mentorship is probably not as realistic as starting with smaller local names who have found success for themselves.
If you’re planning on reaching out to someone through cold emails, make sure you don’t come off too strong or demanding. Nurture a relationship without asking too much of them too fast. Have an authentic voice that signals professionalism, respect, and charisma.
Easier said than done, I know.
But more often than not, the best mentors are the ones already in our networks. Look at your current boss, manager, professor, or even family and friends. Perhaps there is someone already in your life you can turn to without having to send out a bunch of emails to cold prospects.
Another option is paying for a mentorship through a program. The pro of this is that you’re guaranteed a mentorship. The con is that it will cost you money. Weigh out the heaviness of these two factors for yourself to figure out if it’s right for you.
How to approach the mentorship
The mentor/mentee relationship goes back ages, from Merlin and Arthur to Steve Jobs and Bill Campbell. It’s a trusted process because it works- but like every relationship, it requires effort on both parts. You can’t expect a mentor to magically fix all your mistakes. The advice a mentor gives you will only go as far as your ability to learn and act on what they say.
So, you need to approach the relationship with your mentor openly. Accept their honesty; it’s what makes their advice so valuable. In return, be honest with them. You will gain nothing from them if you can’t be honest about your capabilities, your weaknesses, and your fears.
Before meeting your mentor, make a list of everything you want to gain from your meetings. Step aside from yourself and look at your flaws. What are your weaknesses? What can your mentor help you achieve? What sorts of obstacles can you predict will hinder your goals? Having all this in mind will help you and your mentor understand what needs to be done and how.
At the same time, your mentor is your friend. You don’t have to be so formal in your interactions. Simply talking over drinks will give you meaningful advice. It all depends on the type of relationship between you and your mentor. Find what works for you both.
You’re also not restrained to one mentor. Perhaps you have different areas of your life that requires different methods of mentoring. Having a dynamic range of advice can help you formulate more well-rounded viewpoints in your life.
Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Bill Gates. Other than the fact that these are the most successful entrepreneurs of our time, what do they have in common? They all had mentors. They understood the value of outside advice. And they stood out of the crowd because of it.
I hope this article convinced you to go out there and find a valuable mentor or two. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to give me a follow here on Medium for more!