A serial entrepreneur who built a business from day 1 with an initial 3 to managing a 300 person workforce. YC alumni
Before you accuse me of pushing hallucinogens, I should clarify that this is a Super Mario metaphor. The only trip you should take is a trip to your mentor’s office.
Mushrooms are Mario’s secret weapon in the same way that mentors are mine. They make him grow bigger and mean he can take an extra hit without dying. Ultimately, they help him to advance through the levels towards his end goal.
The journey from the first-time founder to an established entrepreneur takes time. It can also feel like climbing a mountain. Getting to the peak is a heck of an achievement, but the cliff edges are steep, and the weather is treacherous. And if you’re an Italian plumber, you also have to watch out for Goombas and Koopas.
A good mentor is like one of Mario’s magic mushrooms. They’re a power-up that can support you when you first establish your business through consolidation and growth until you’re ready to sell, merge or retire.
With the right mentor, you’ll be able to find quick solutions to complex problems, saving yourself time, stress, and money. They’ll help you live your dreams and achieve your goals, enhancing your life, leadership, and business skills.
Keeping this list down to six points was a challenge, but it also helped me focus on only the main ways that mentors can help you. Here are the most significant benefits that I’ve experienced from having a mentor and being one myself.
1. 10x Your Learnings
Mentors know things that their mentees don’t, thanks to their years of hard work and experience. They can offer a shortcut to learning and knowledge, especially when people are starting their first business or branching out into a different industry.
They can teach you:
You can learn a lot from your mentors, and the lessons are quicker and easier than learning through trial and error. Instead of learning from your own (costly) mistakes, you can learn from people who’ve been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
2. Support and Motivation
Entrepreneurship can be lonely, and I know from experience that it often feels as though the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Fortunately, mentors are uniquely placed to understand entrepreneurship's struggles and provide moral support and motivation. They also know better than anyone that the rewards are waiting on the other side if only you persevere and keep going.
When you’re an entrepreneur, self-confidence is key. That’s why people say you should “fake it ‘til you make it,” although that’s not always good advice and so take it with a pinch of salt. It’s not an excuse to skip your homework or pretend you know something you’re clueless about.
We all need some assurance from time to time, especially when making tough decisions or second-guessing ourselves. Mentors have weathered enough storms and made enough decisions in their time to be able to offer convincing reassurance.
This reassurance can help you to keep your spirits up, even during the darkest of times. We all experience failure and setbacks along the way, but mentors have experienced these setbacks and powered through them. They know what to say to offer comfort and boost morale, and they can also offer ideas that can help you mitigate those setbacks and avoid repeating the same mistakes that they made.
Mentors are well-connected, and their connections can open doors and lead to collaboration and career growth opportunities. They can hook you up with strategic partnerships, customer trials, potential investors, and much, much more.
In fact, you’ll find that most investors are more likely to invest in your startup if you’ve been referred to them by a friend. They say it’s not what you know but who you know, but that’s only half of the story. It’s not what you know or who you know; it’s what and who your mentor knows.
“Experience is a master teacher, even when it’s not our own.”
– Gina Greenlee, bestselling author, speaker and coach
4. Level Up Instantly
Mentors have a unique kind of experience that you won’t be able to find elsewhere. This applies to subject matters and industries, but also specific situations. When you have a super-specific question, you usually can’t just Google it. The good news is that with a mentor, you don’t need to.
There's rarely a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to topics like SEO, user acquisition, product-market fit, fundraising, and business models. There’s rarely even a one-size-fits-all question!
This is where mentors’ unique experience comes into play because you can talk the issues through with them and benefit from their insights and years of experience. In the rare instances where they can’t help you out directly, the chances are that they’ll point you in the right direction. You’ll level up instantly, just like Mario and his magic mushrooms.
5. Increased EQ
We’ve all heard of intelligence quotients (or IQ). EQ stands for emotional quotient, and it’s essentially the emotional equivalent.
By working with a successful and mature mentor, young entrepreneurs can access a shortcut to improving their emotional quotient and become more rounded individuals. They’ll gain greater control over their emotions and be more at peace with themselves, but they’ll also enjoy better business relations.
6. The harsh truth
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you already have enough cheerleaders.
Even the loneliest of entrepreneurs have a support network of friends and family who believe in them. The people who love and care for you will always be there to sing your praises and to tell you that you’re awesome, and that’s fantastic.
The problem is that they’ll rarely ask you the tough questions or tell you when your great new idea actually sucks. You don’t need more yes men telling you that if you put enough time in, you’re sure to succeed. You need mentors who’ll cut through the crap and tell you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it.
You can’t do everything alone, and even if you could, you shouldn’t.
Let’s take the best-case scenario, which is that you already have the answer somewhere inside you. Even when that’s the case, the most reliable way to uncover it is to talk it over with someone neutral and knowledgeable.
It’s easy to get distracted and to chase after every shiny new idea. Luckily, surrounding yourself with the right people can keep you grounded and focused. You can also avoid costly mistakes by learning from the people who’ve gone before you.
One-on-one consultation is the way to go, providing you with a safe space to discuss your challenges and doubts confidentially. But don’t make the mistake of thinking of it as a one-way street.
Mentoring is mutually beneficial. The person being mentored has access to experience and know-how, and the mentor can develop trusted partnerships within their business community.
Mentors can learn a lot about themselves through mentoring. They can also draw from that experience to approach their problems and challenges in new (and better) ways. I’m not just saying this, either. I’ve seen it happen through my own mentoring. I’ve learned countless lessons that I’ve used to improve myself, and I’ve even integrated some of them into the processes I use when building startups and businesses.
No matter where you are along the journey, you can give yourself the best chance of success by finding a mentor to walk alongside you and share their hard-earned advice and experience. So if anything that you’ve read today has resonated with you, start looking for a mentor today!
Originally published on https://www.growthreflection.com/why-every-founder-needs-a-mentor-2/.
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