Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Mentor
Having a mentor helps you stay ahead of the market and opens your business model to new ideas
Find the Alfred to your bat mansion
When Branson met Laker: A moment every new entrepreneur needs
In the days that Richard Branson was working towards getting the Virgin Atlantic up and running, he resorted to Sir Freddie Laker, founder of Laker Airways for help. Branson recalls his learning period under Sir Freddie and goes on to say: "It's always good to have a helping hand at the start. I wouldn't have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker."
First-time entrepreneurs feel an overwhelming sense of ownership of their business and brand, and understandably why. However, in my experience, it is equally paramount to keep the faith and trust the experience of a mentor to help you pave a more solid way for your business goals. Which is exactly what each of these business moguls saw and then went on to put in practice.
- Mike Markkula (early investor and executive at Apple Inc.) mentored Steve Jobs
- Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg
- Eric Schmidt mentored Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google
- Warren Buffett mentored Bill Gates
In a business navigator research by Sage, 93 per cent of startups admit mentorship is instrumental to success. Needless to say, these leaders led empires with the help of their equally influential mentors.
An unbiased opinion
It's only natural to feel a great amount of attachment towards your business. But the outcome you envision for it lies in assessing its current state and potential to progress in an unbiased fashion. A thumb rule to follow here would be to have a mentor who has no personal relation with you. The feedback you receive may not always be what you are looking to hear but the great part about unfiltered feedback is that it stays honest and goal oriented. With no personal relation to you, this mentor is focused on nothing more than your business targets and brand building exercises. Their opinions will be directed to streamlining your strategies for the best outcome of your business.
Setting goals and measuring progress
Defining milestones at the beginning of your journey is an important exercise for you to do along with your mentor. A mentor on board can help you define your goals and understand how to measure them, as well as set the right level of expectation of the outcomes. As part of this exercise, evaluating processes and ideas is key. With multiple perspectives in their bank of experiences, mentors can share with you a clear viewpoint and re-route you to multiple problem solving paths when faced with a crisis.
Unlearning acts as a catalyst to overcome traditional wisdom and achieve efficiency and effectiveness; here is where the importance of reinvention surfaces. It's easy for a young entrepreneur to get attached to his original business model. A mentor will look beyond this tunnel. Choosing to opt-out of the old-school techniques and welcome the progressive ones can bring the desired results your business needs to project. Their experience will help you know when to pivot if your current idea is not working and will help you foresee a bigger opportunity.
Around 80 per cent of businesses that were mentored showed accelerated business growth, success and revenue generated. Reaping long-term success like this doubles the rate of survival of a business. With clear-cut roadmaps to follow and metrics to measure processes, mentoring can bring a significant change to how your business functions, thus resulting in overall accelerated growth.
Generating the big M
As entrepreneurs, we are focused on three key aspects when running a business: the purpose, the people and the profit. A mentor, with his experience helps you with inputs that result in better outputs. They help you invalidate or validate your assumptions, keep your fallibility in check and point you to the right resources. They help you assess the valuation of your own company. Connecting you to the right kind of people, helping you reach out to angel investors and venture capitalists. At the same time, they also help you with whom not to approach.
This is underestimated by most companies, especially at an early stage. Having a mentor on boards helps you understand the relevant risks involved in your business model. While as a young entrepreneur you might be aggressive about your beliefs, which will cause you to ignore the relevant data. Constructive feedback and criticism by a mentor will help you analyze risks attached to reputation, data protection, compliance and legal risks. Ensuring good timing is also directly proportional to risk management. Having someone knowledgeable to turn to for advice to ensure good timing is the key aspect of its success. A business strategy executed too early or late will fail to have the impact visioned by the leader. Despite the planning, research and hard work that goes into forming a good business model. Mentors undoubtedly with their experience and farsightedness can help you with the same.
Having a mentor has shown an increase in the average revenue of businesses, measuring to $47,000, or 106 per cent. While companies that opted for self-learning witnessed an average increase in revenue of about $6,600, or 14 per cent, according to research by MicroMentor. Having a mentor helps you stay ahead of the market and opens your business model to new ideas. When your mentor is part of your business ethos, it contributes to your innovation, organizational management, and ultimately collective business success.