Leading by Example: Why Entrepreneurs Need Mentors | Flavio Almeida

If you’re a strong-willed entrepreneur with a head full of great ideas, chances are you struggle with asking for help. After all, if you wanted assistance and a clear path to take, you would have chosen any other career. Our current culture gratifies the underdogs, the Mark Zuckerbergs and Jeff Bezos out there, who built an empire from a single idea and with very little help (in the beginning, at least). But their stories, and their success, are known as unicorns for a reason. They’re extremely unlikely.

Starting a business and getting it off the ground is a difficult, time consuming, and expensive endeavor. Without help, a majority of first-time entrepreneurs will fail. This is not cynicism. It’s statistics. Finding a mentor, someone with the know-how, experience, and a level-head to guide you through the difficulties of business, can help ensure the success of your venture. Here’s why:

Chances of Success Increase

Speaking of statistics, they hold their own when it comes to debating the benefit of mentors. A 2013 survey, though a bit dated now, found that 80% of CEOS were mentored at one point in their career. I’d bet that number only increased since 2013. What’s even more pointed, though, is the fact that 93% of startups said that mentors are key to success, and small business owners expressed the same sentiment in another survey.

Expand Your Network

Who you know in business is key. It’s all about connections. A mentor can help expand your circle past your friends, college buddies, and family members. This growth not only helps you make important contacts, but it makes you look more professional and connected to investors. Many investors only contribute funds to people their business contacts know and can vouch for. The more important people you know, the more funding you’re likely to receive.

Great Advice, Little to No Cost

Many young entrepreneurs hire advisors or consultants to help them navigate tricky business situations, but such a practice is extremely costly. With funds already bleeding from your fledgling venture, paying someone for advice probably isn’t a great expense. Mentors offer you the same, if not better, advice because they’re personally invested in you, and it’s usually completely free.

You can read every blog, article, and book out there on starting your own business. The truth is, what you read (yes, even this blog) only goes so far. Mentors can take what you read and show you how to put it into practice. Knowledge is only as good as how it’s used.

Reach out to entrepreneurs or business owners you admire. Tell them about your business and your idea. You may be surprised at how much easier things get when you have someone to back you up and show you a better way.