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7 Mentors You Didn't Even Know You Had You can build a better business simply by observing and studying the people whom you have already surrounded yourself with.

By Stacey Alcorn Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Good mentors can change the trajectory of your business forever. They get you to see things differently. They get you to question if there are different or better ways to grow your business. They lead by example or by sharing their stories.

The cool thing about great mentors is that they don't even need to know that they are mentoring you. You can build a better business simply by observing and studying the people whom you have already surrounded yourself with.

Related: 3 Secrets You Must Know to Find and Work With the Right Mentor

Stop looking so hard for a formal mentor relationship and instead enjoy the fruits of the informal mentors that are all around you. Here are the seven mentors you didn't even know you had:

1. Employees and co-workers

A mentor is someone who advises or counsels. Some of the best advisors I've had are people who work for me. They are staff members and agents of my firm. They are firmly embedded in the day to day of my company and so are best suited to give advice and ideas for making the company run smoother and grow faster.

2. Bosses

When I was in the mortgage industry working for the same company for 12 years, my boss was my mentor, but not in a formal capacity. However, I watched how she did business and interacted with clients and then adjusted my own sales business accordingly.

3. Family

As an entrepreneur himself, my dad has shaped my business without even knowing it. Meanwhile, my 5-year-old daughter has absolutely taught me a thing or two about sales, negotiating and asking relentlessly for what I want.

Related: Robert Herjavec: Listen to Your Mentors, But Go Your Own Way

4. Board members

What boards do you sit on and who sits on those boards with you? Most boards are made up of a mix of talent and expertise. Not only should you serve and fulfill your duties as a board member, but you should also network with, befriend, study and ask advice from the people with whom you serve. Don't let that talent go to waste. Let them be your mentors too.

5. Thought leaders

My mentors have included Seth Godin, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Richard Branson and more. All of them have shaped my career with their wisdom and advice. As of yet, I haven't met any of them. There are millions of thought leaders who share business lessons and guidance through their blogs, books or biographies. A mentor need not be sitting next to you to change your world.

6. Customers

Looking for guidance on how to build a stronger business? Who better to ask for help than your customers. The people who buy from you already love you and they know a thing or two about what it is that can make you even better. If you are seeking counsel and advice, why not seek it from someone with a unique perspective from the other side of the transaction.

7. Vendors

You want to build an awesome business right? Then you need to understand how to create an awesome customer experience. Well, you're a customer too right? Most of what I've learned about customer service has been from being a customer. I look at each person or company I buy from as a mentor because they help me create better experiences for my customers by creating a good or bad buying experience for me.

Related: Remember, Your Behavior Is Contagious

Stacey Alcorn

Author and Entrepreneur

Stacey Alcorn is CEO of Boston-based Laer Realty Partners.  She owns and operates several businesses in the Boston area including a consulting firm, a law firm and a fashion line. She is the author of REACH! -- Dream, Stretch, Achieve, Influence.

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