Many if not most business leaders agree that seeking out a mentor when starting a business is one of the smartest things a fledgling entrepreneur can do. From offering the benefits of their hard-fought experience to providing advice backed by years of experience, mentors perform a valuable service when called on for help.
Even many of today’s business megastars credit their mentors for helping them on the path to success. Silicon Valley guru Bill Campbell mentored Steve Jobs and other industry luminaries. Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg. Bill Gates sought wisdom from Warren Buffet.
According to an article in Inc by Sheila Eugenio, research indicates that having a mentor is important to success. She writes that “80 percent of CEOs said they received some form of mentorship’” adding that “93 percent of startups admit that mentorship is instrumental to success.” She also says that a mentor who shares your concerns will also help boost your self-confidence.
Ajay Raju, chairman & CEO of Philadelphia law firm Dilworth Paxson LLP, says he’s big on mentorship. “If I have one skill that has served me well over the years, it’s a knack for putting myself in the presence of talent,” says Raju. “If you develop that ability, and combine it with a humble willingness to learn, you can find and benefit from mentors anywhere.”
Raju advises entrepreneurs to seek out someone who is accomplished in their field and approach him or her with humility and honesty. Then, be open to receiving their insights.
“When you’re an entrepreneur, you want to be independent,” Bobby Genovese says. “But you will inevitably encounter situations that are beyond your knowledge base or experience, and you won’t know how to deal with them. This is where having a good mentor is really helpful. Seek out the wisdom of those who have been there and have a deep understanding of your field. You’ll be thankful you did.”
SyndicateRoom’s CEO and co-founder, Gonçalo de Vasconcelos, says that one of the key benefits of having a mentor is being able to say, “I have this problem and I’m struggling to deal with it. Have you come across something similar before?’”
An experienced entrepreneur, he says, will be helpful in these types of situations. “Not only will it be fulfilling for your mentor to pass on their experience,” says de Vasconcelos, “but it will also be invaluable for you as a less- experienced entrepreneur.”
Will a mentor have all the answers to your questions? No, says Muthu Singaram, founder of consulting firm VibaZone. But he or she will help you formulate your own answers and solutions.
“A mentor accomplishes this by sharing his/her experience and gained knowledge in dealing with the challenges faced by the young start-ups,” says Singaram. “The mentor will then help facilitate the young-start up in thinking about their own problems and how they can develop their own unique solutions.” A mentor will also provide training and coaching, says Singaram.
Today, Bobby Genovese enjoys mentoring younger entrepreneurs who seek the benefit of his knowledge, “Successful business leaders have a responsibility to give back,” he says. “ Many young entrepreneurs really need guidance. I’m thrilled to share my experiences and insights, and love helping others achieve their dreams and goals.”
Image credit: Mentorship via garagestock/Shutterstock