The importance of a business mentor can not be ignored in any position. However, if you are endeavoring to be a startup entrepreneur the importance of having a good business mentor is many times increased. If not for yourself you owe it to your employees to surround yourself with the best and brightest business minds that are committed to supporting you with advice and ‘Straight-Talk’ when you need it. The future of your business may depend on it. Investors and prospective employees alike may look at your mentors as references to determine just what type of a leader or an executive you are. Here are some of the key points which outline the importance of having a business mentor for any new start-up or venture.
Business Mentor Advantages
An entrepreneur usually starts a business with a great new idea. An Idea that they think will materialize into glorious profit and success. However, a business idea alone can’t assure success. Business life has complex dimensions that sometimes life does not prepare us for. A good business mentor usually can provide valuable insights and in-depth knowledge about a wide variety of business situations. The business mentor can call on their work and life experiences and help the Entrepreneur learn from the mentors mistakes. This is especially handy and essential for new start-ups.
Just like industry insights, business contacts are also required to start a business journey successfully. A new entrant in the market is expected not to have all the valuable contacts and knowledge. A business mentor should be able to help deliver much-needed connections and access to their network of professionals to help when needed
No matter how great the business idea and how motivated a new entrepreneur is, there is always a place for advice from someone with experience. A new business person may have a lot of common sense and great intuition, but they usually can use someone that has been-there-done-that before. Instead of spending few years in the industry to gain necessary experience, it is much better to seek a good business mentor who has the necessary expertise and is willing to help.
- Reduces isolation:
Being a CEO is the loneliest job there is. Many times you will face difficult challenges, and you will not be able to discuss them with your team. Having a good business mentor at your side reduces this feeling of isolation and gives you a sense of security since you have a trusted partner.
- Raising Capital:
It is often most difficult for new businesses and first-time entrepreneurs to raise the required finance from banks as well as from other sources. This problem is two-fold. On one hand, you are new to the financing game and banks and venture capitalists may be a bit hesitant to give you money. On the other hand, This may be your first time raising capital. You do not know where to go or what to say to impress these bankers and investors. In both cases, an experienced Business Mentor should be able to both introduce you to banks or VC firms. Additionally, they should be able to help you create the right pitch deck and give you pointers on how to present yourself. In my case, I had a mentor that went to a couple of investor pitches with me. Instant feedback, both positive and negative.
- Valuable Objective Opinion:
It is entirely possible that you may not be getting an impartial opinion from your management team. Remember these people already are bought into your vision and at times may be overly loyal to the cause. Or, maybe you are getting good objective feedback, but you are questioning the qualifications of the person that is offering the comments. In either case, if you can surround yourself with experienced senior mentors that you respect you will be much more apt to listen to their feedback and make the best decisions.
Only take on a business mentor that you admire so much that you will look at them as part of the decision-making process. If you can find a great business mentor, you can almost treat them like a continuous sounding board for the critical decisions. Remember, you are still the boss. If you make a wrong decision, you are the one that is accountable, not the mentor.
The last point I want to make is the most important. I will write a couple of full blogs about this later, but I want to address it briefly here right now.
The point is around how to interact with the mentor. It is my opinion that you need to be as open and honest as possible with your business mentor. A lie to them is a lie to yourself. Bring them into your strictest confidence. You need to allow yourself to be totally vulnerable to the advice and criticisms of this person. If you think that this person is too tough or that you just do not have the proper chemistry, then get rid of them. Make sure to get someone new; you should have someone there to help you at all times. Being an Entrepreneur or a CEO is the loneliest job. You need a support framework around you.