As an entrepreneur, your ambition is your greatest asset. It takes a lot of drive, exertion, and passion to turn an idea into a business, and your ability to weather all the challenges that come with that task is what will come to define you and your company.
Which is exactly why, once you get things in motion, knowing when to open your ears as opposed to charging ahead is essential. Following your dreams got you this far, but to make the next step up requires more than just desire and enthusiasm. It requires measured choices, and critical thinking. But you don’t have to go it alone.
A trusted peer or mentor can be your most valuable asset as you scale your business upward. A Harvard Business Review study found a majority of successful CEOs reported having formal mentorship agreements than enable them to make better decisions and fulfill the needs of their companies. If it works for them, there’s a strong chance it’ll work for entrepreneurs at any level. Taking those big leaps can end up in disaster when done without proper guidance. There are several ways that mentors can make the difference between a successful entrepreneur and a floundering one.
They’ll Multiply Your Experience
Having a wide range of knowledge and experience from which to draw is one of the primary benefits of a mentor relationship. Even if this isn’t your first time starting a company, it’ll help massively to lean on another entrepreneur’s know-how. You’ll still need to learn your own lessons, but having that combined set of experiences will take you further than heading out on your own. Partnership is a vital quality as your business scales upward, and having a close, personal advisor brings those benefits closer to home.
With a more experienced mentor, you’re also gaining the ability to draw on their network. Adding it to your own means your own searches for partners, clients, and investors will be not just wider, but more refined. Your mentor is likely someone who knows you well enough to know what you need professionally, and can recommend contacts who fit the same bill.
They’ll Sustain and Motivate You
A trusted mentor is someone who really knows you, not just a set of anecdotes and business connections. They’ll be able to read you when things aren’t going well, and suggest constructive ways to get through the myriad problems that can arise. If they know you well, they’ll know exactly which buttons of yours to push in order to maximize your efficiency.
From the outside looking in, especially for someone with experience, it’s easier to identify the moments when you’ll need to shift gears, or take a quick break. Time is the most limited resource an entrepreneur has, and using it most efficiently can be a struggle. With input from a trusted advisor, you’ll know when you’ve spent too much time on one problem and not enough on another. It won’t always be welcome words, but their consultation proves valuable when you’re not sure where to go next.
They’ll Challenge You
This is where the real growth happens. Yes, your mentor will give you a boost through their experience and their network, but when push comes to shove, you can’t put a dollar value on advice that helps you truly see all sides of every problem. Having someone who can tell you when you’re wrong is incredibly valuable, especially for a business owner who mostly deals with people who depend on him or her for a paycheck.
You do yourself no favors by surrounding yourself with sycophants. A mentor will bring you down to Earth when you need it, and give you the kick in the pants when you need to make a big leap. If all you’re hearing is “good idea,” there’s no telling if that’s the truth. Brutal honesty can hurt, but you won’t learn anything without it.
Building your business may well be the greatest challenge you take on in your life. A trusted advisor makes that challenge a little more tolerable. They won’t make it easy for you, nobody can do that, but they can help refine your talents into the best possible entrepreneur you can be. Because when the times comes to make the big jump, you ought to have an idea of where you may land.