The savvy businessperson, destined to make the grade, acknowledges that they don’t know everything and seeks out a mentor to show them the path to success. Sure, you can set up your business and struggle through alone, out of some misplaced sense of pride, but if you are serious about succeeding as an entrepreneur, and going the distance in the tough world of business, you ignore the importance of having a mentor at your peril!
While you may have heard of the value of business mentoring before, you may not realise that if you want to double your chances of succeeding in business, you’d better find one fast! According to research published by the Federation of Small Businesses, 70% of entrepreneurs with mentors survive for at least five years in business, as opposed to only 35% of those who receive no mentoring. So, it’s hard to quibble with a success rate like that!
Indeed, there is no shame in getting a helping hand to guide you on your entrepreneurial journey, as some of the most successful entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson, attribute their initial success to having a mentor when they started out.
The benefits stack up
As well as improving your chances of staying in business longer, the many other benefits of having a mentor can really stack up. Top of the list of pluses this can bring is that it is actually a shrewd way to take the fast-track to success, as you can tap into the experience of your mentor to bypass the pitfalls they have already navigated around. This is invaluable, coal-face experience that you cannot learn from books! In addition, the networking opportunities you can gain from having a mentor are invaluable.
The old adage ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ has never rung truer than in the realm of mentorship – If you get yourself a well-connected mentor, it can open doors and enable you to make the right contacts. Sure, you have to put in the work when you meet people, but half the battle can be getting that first meeting. A mentor is also someone to bounce ideas around with, which can help to improve those ideas and push you to the next level.
In addition, having a mentor can also help to strengthen your emotional intelligence – the ability to identify and manage your emotions and those of others – which research suggests improves your chances of entrepreneurial success. This is particularly so for the younger entrepreneur, who can upgrade their emotional intelligence by learning from a more mature mentor.
Your own personal barometer
Wherever you are in the world, the importance of having a mentor to business success is widely recognised as invaluable. In fact, in a worldwide survey of businesses, spanning 17 countries, Sage found that 93% of small and medium sized businesses acknowledged the importance of mentoring to success. Indeed, Rachiele David, a highly successful entrepreneur from the Philippines, with a global direct selling business, agrees: ‘I think having a mentor or a coach or someone that you can look up to is of great importance, because it’s your personal barometer, of who you want to be as a person or as a leader in the future.
‘A mentor is someone who can level with you and tell you if you are going overboard or slacking in your goals. It’s great to work with someone who has already taken the hits and can guide you so you won’t fall for the same traps.’
In fact, a mentor can help not only in business, but in life as a whole, and should be someone you admire and respect. Liaqat Ali Khan Magray, a well-established entrepreneur from Pakistan, with a booming global business, says: ‘My mentor is Dan Andersson, CEO of LEO [an entrepreneurship training organisation], and he has helped me in many ways. I have learned how to face life’s challenges from him, and also how to take people with me on my business journey, so everyone succeeds. I personally admire him because he speaks the truth in every situation, and as a trainer the big thing I have learned from him is that whatever you teach others to do, you must practice in your own life, because you need to be a role model to inspire others.’
Finding the right mentor
So, the consensus certainly seems to be that if you want to get ahead as an entrepreneur you must get a mentor. However, it is also vital that you find the right one for you. Liaqat agrees, ‘Choosing the right mentor is very important. You need to consider what type of mentor would be best to help you meet your objectives, and look to someone you know who is successful. What knowledge, skills, and abilities do you need to get you to where you want to be? What key experiences could mentorship provide that would benefit you most? Are they excited about learning and continuing their own development? Do they set high standards for their own work?’
These are certainly powerful points to consider when choosing the best mentor for you. And be sure to find someone who motivates you to think outside the box and achieve your goals, as Rachiele says: ‘Work with a mentor who has deep passion and is consistent in what they do. Someone who has the vision and pursues that vision to reality. Work with a mentor who lives to inspire others.’ Finally, if you are lucky enough to find such a mentor, make the most of this valuable opportunity. If your mentor is good at what they do, they will undoubtedly be busy and their time will be precious, so prepare in advance of any meetings what goals and ideas you want to discuss, to really reap the benefits.
It is therefore fair to say that, with testimony from such experienced entrepreneurs and endless evidence to support their claims, the single smartest thing you can do to ensure you excel as an entrepreneur, really is to find yourself a mentor with the route map to success, fast!