Startups

Start it Up & Keep it Going with the Right Mentors

This will help startups transform, adapt and stay highly relevant in this competitive and morphing landscape
Start it Up & Keep it Going with the Right Mentors
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Guest Writer
Head, Marico Innovation Foundation
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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The Indian startup ecosystem has flourished in recent years with innovative & passionate entrepreneurs creating disruption and fuelling growth. However, it has been witnessed that despite them knowing their product really well, having great business strategies and the backing of funding partners, many of these startups nosedive to an abrupt demise.

A recent study, “Entrepreneurial India,” by the IBM Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics found that 90% of Indian startups fail within the first five years. Some of the key reasons cited in the study include a lack of innovation, lack of skilled workforce and funding, inadequate formal mentoring and poor business ethics, according to this study.

As for the remaining startups that are able to withstand the test of time, we find that most are not able to make the frog leap from the startup stage to becoming an established business.

One step forward two steps back

Along the way, the most disruptive ideas can face challenges in managing the business.

For instance, optimizing online sales, reducing manufacturing costs, ensuring efficient logistics management might not be the expertise of these great innovators. Or solving strategic dilemmas like which customer segment should the product target, what should the B2C strategy be – may be giving the entrepreneur sleepless nights and can result in throwing a spanner in the works. This is where finding a mentor with the right skill can prove to be a game changer for the startup. Nothing makes you an expert like experience after all! Seeking the right help at the right time

The changing landscape of the business world has shown that a unification and conglomeration of energies benefits everyone. This has brought about a growing ecosystem of experts in various fields providing mentoring to seeking businesses.

Everyone needs a mentor at some point or the other in their entrepreneurial journey. Whether an organization needs a mentor to douse a specific fire or one who is more a strategist lending long-term support, will depend on the unique needs of the enterprise at that particular point in its growth chart.

Successful mentors bring with them their in-depth understanding to create maximum impact with minimum spending. They provide answers and actionable solutions which the organization implements into its own SOP to create lasting efficiency instead of just solving the problem. Mentors also bring with them their wide network of people who can benefit an entrepreneur’s growth journey by bridging the gaps in the business at the right junctures. Whether you need a coach, a sponsor or a strategist, reaching out and finding a mentor that best suits your needs is an unbeatable asset to have on your side.

Dynamics of the mentor-mentee waltz

What mentees need to know about mentors’ -

* Mentors choose committed mentees who seek to benefit from their know-how. They want to create maximum impact from the investment of their time and mentorship.

* They focus on empowering and enabling organisations by helping lay down SOPs and solving specific challenges, step by step. They are NOT a part of your team – and will not execute for you

* They show the path and instil confidence in you to develop your own competency. Avoid excessive dependency.

* Mentors bring with them specific competencies – be it strategic advice or execution guidance. Ensure you tap the right mentor for the right challenge faced by your organisation.

How to make the best use of this limited period relationship -

* Clearly identify the problem you seek support for and basis that, choose a mentor you can look up to and work efficiently with. The right fitment is a foundational requirement

* Take the essence of the mentors shown the path and make it your own instead of blindly implementing, without assessing how best it will work for your organization

* Learn to trust your mentor. Withholding information, being closed to recommendations and unwilling to take risks is counterproductive to the objective of having an expert mentor you.

Young startups spend excessive amounts of time prioritizing resources & keeping pace with the constant changes of a complex marketplace and its regulatory landscape. After all, starting a new venture can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

At the very core of a successful mentor-mentee dynamic, is the mentor’s empowering impact and the mentee’s commitment to seeking expertise. This will help startups transform, adapt and stay highly relevant in this competitive and morphing landscape.    

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