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These Insights Will Help You Find the Right Mentor Early In Your Entrepreneurial Journey We asked some well-known investors from the ecosystem to share their thoughts on how to find the right mentor early and here is what they said.

By S Shanthi

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

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The importance of influential mentor relationships is often not spoken about in the business community. Mentorship is one of the most important things that will determine success for anyone embarking on an entrepreneurial journey.

Some successful global mentorship examples will be:

  • Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg
  • Eric Schmidt and Larry Page
  • Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffet
  • Mark Timm and Kevin Harrington
  • Warren Buffett and Bill Gates

For young entrepreneurs, who have launched a business while still in college or have recently stepped into the business arena after graduating, a mentor can be a valuable asset.

"Entrepreneurs' journey is a lonely road especially for a first time entrepreneur as everything is new and there is no one as a sounding board. It is very important to have good mentors, and they will keep changing as one moves up in ladder," said Anil Joshi, Managing Partner, Unicorn India Ventures.

We asked a few more well-known investors from the ecosystem to share their thoughts on how to find the right mentor early and here is what they said.

Anupam Mittal, founder and CEO, People Group

"Let's first and foremost, debunk the mentor myth. Too many mentors can become tormentors. When there are too many voices telling you what to do, you should find the nearest door and get out of there. Because if you are going to be successful, you are going to be successful despite not having a mentor. And if you're not going to be successful, if you don't have that DNA, no mentor can make you successful. So, don't wait for the perfect mentor. Rather, I would say, if you want to learn how to do business, take up a sales job and learn to sell."

"There is no better way to learn how to be an entrepreneur than interacting with people, trying to sell your product to them and getting money out of them. If you sit down to think of the perfect business plan, the perfect product and getting that right mentor, you're not going to get very far. You have to 'do'. What does 'doing' entail? 'Doing' entails activity, it means momentum, and it means moving forward. Then, you will stumble upon people who can help you along the way. Someday somehow you will meet the right people. And, today the Internet has truly made the world flat. If you write an email from your heart and if you have a good story to tell, you might be surprised that you will get a response back from some of the top entrepreneurs in the world. So don't be afraid to ask. Just get out. But don't put your eggs in that mentor basket and wait. That's not going to happen."

"The right mentor is not somebody who tells you what to do, the right mentor is somebody who asks you the right questions and you figure out yourself what you must do. The only thing that a mentor can do in my view and my experience is maybe multiply your resources by 2 to 4 times. He or she gives you what you can do in less time. They accelerate your learning. And if you have the right one, I think it can go a long way in doing that."

Mittal was talking at Entrepreneur India's recently concluded annual event 'Entrepreneur 2023'

Anil Joshi, managing partner, Unicorn India Ventures

"Entrepreneurs' journey is a lonely road especially for a first-time entrepreneur as everything is new and there is no one as a sounding board. It is very important to have good mentors, and they will keep changing as one moves up in ladder. But the question is how to identify a good mentor or to be specific how to get access to the right mentor. While entrepreneurship is growing so is the list of mentors but finding the right one is a big challenge. The best way is to start with professors or officials of the incubator at their college and then refine it to the one who can be the right person given the stage your venture is at. One should be able to identify when to change and when to keep continuing, every mentor has a role to play, some may be there for the entire journey but some will have a very specific role to play and will be time-bound or outcome basis. "

"The entrepreneurs need to continuously keep evaluating the guidance they get from mentors and keep moving with existing mentors or new ones as the business grows. Getting the right mentors can be very rewarding as they will speed up the journey and at the same time if one gets a non-relevant mentor, such a situation could be totally time-consuming without much outcome. Hence, one needs to keep evaluating and seeking intros to the right mentor as they move in life."

Vikram Chachra, general partner, 8i Ventures

"The entrepreneurial pulse of India beats strong, powered by youthful dreams and age-old wisdom. As a fresh grad, your journey has its roots in classrooms, late-night canteen talks, and dreams scribbled on the back pages of notebooks. Now, as you step into the larger world, seeking a mentor might feel like finding a needle in a haystack. But here's your blueprint. Begin with introspection. What problem tugs at your heart? Perhaps it's something you've witnessed in your college corridors or back in your hometown lanes. That's your edge, your 'Founder <> Problem fit'. Your generational experiences and fresh insights give you a unique perspective – something that the older guard might miss."

"While the allure of 'celeb entrepreneurs' is undeniable, the ideal mentor isn't always in the limelight. Prioritize those with tangible hands-on experience, especially those who are willing to share their learnings not only what they got right but also what they did wrong in hindsight. These insights are gold for a Day Zero founder. Use platforms like LinkedIn not as a mere tool but as a dwaar (door) to your potential guru. And when you connect, remember that your youth isn't just an advantage; it's your superpower. You understand trends and nuances that might evade the older generation. Your questions, no matter how basic, shed light on shifts they might not even see. In this quest, stay rooted in your essence. Choose a mentor who is willing to ask the hard questions, not just a cheerleader. In the end, always remember to take all advice and apply only as you see fit to your circumstances."

Ivy Chin, partner, IPV

"Start by considering the power of complementary skills. Find a mentor whose strengths balance your weaknesses, and vice versa. A mentor should be a collaborator in your journey, offering diverse perspectives and insights that broaden your horizons. They should challenge your thinking and help you see opportunities where others might see obstacles. Moreover, a mentor should be a champion of adaptability. In today's rapidly changing business landscape, the ability to pivot and innovate is crucial. Look for a mentor who encourages you to embrace change, experiment with new ideas, and stay agile in the face of challenges."

"But mentorship isn't solely about professional growth; it's also about personal development. Find a mentor who cares about your well-being and encourages a balanced approach to work and life. Their guidance should extend beyond business matters to enrich your overall quality of life. Above all, remember that mentorship is a deeply personal relationship. Look for a mentor who not only believes in your potential but also understands and respects your individual journey. They should be committed to helping you carve your path to success."

S Shanthi

Former Senior Assistant Editor

Shanthi specializes in writing sector-specific trends, interviews and startup profiles. She has worked as a feature writer for over a decade in several print and digital media companies. 

 

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