The Importance of Mentors in your Startup
Posted on 05/13/2022 at 10:32 AM by Ashley Hunt
The recipe for a successful startup may vary from industry to industry. It may depend on market opportunities and timing. One thing it almost always includes: a good team.
A good team is more than a startup’s paid staff. A good team usually includes a mentor.
A good business mentor offers advice and guidance, can be a sounding board, and can help connect you with even more smart, qualified individuals.
Every startup needs a mentor.
What is a mentor?
Generally, a mentor is a trusted confidante, with experience and wisdom, willing to give you their time and brain power. Many people have trusted mentors and don’t even realize it until they reflect and put a name to it. Mentors can be parents, friends, previous coworkers or bosses, teachers, coaches, and so much more. These are the people who have had a profound impact on your life and/or career thus far.
In the startup space, the best mentor is someone with a track record of starting, scaling, and building businesses. They know how to take ideas and turn them into results. A good mentor is willing to dedicate their time and experience to helping a founder build a business and support their growth. Ultimately – a good mentor will see your potential and help you reach it. Through introductions, resources, and brainstorming, a great mentor will be able to give you guidance without always giving direct advice.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have this in common. Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Page, and Jeff Bezos are all well-known and extremely successful in their own right. Even these folks – often considered the brightest and the best – have received help and advice from trusted mentors.
Every founder needs a mentor.
Here are just 5 ways you and your startup might benefit from leveraging a mentor.
1. You don’t know what you don’t know.
New founders won’t know everything right away. Sometimes it takes mistakes to learn good lessons. Mentors have already made their mistakes, and are ready to impart that wisdom so you don’t have to. As an entrepreneur, it’s crucial to know your strengths and weaknesses, and where your gaps lie. Finding a mentor who can help you bridge those gaps can be invaluable in your overall business development. While there are millions upon millions of resources out there for new entrepreneurs – from social media sites and podcasts to magazines and books – a mentor is there to help you narrow it down. There is endless content out there to tell you the X, Y, and Z’s of growing a business. But a mentor is a two-way street – able to offer you tailored advice, answer direct questions, and challenge YOU to think outside the box.
2. You CAN handle the truth.
Your friends and family will, nine times out of ten, support just about anything you do. While everyone needs a “hype team” we also need someone who will give you tough love. A new startup needs someone willing to ask the tough questions, to challenge you to think about what could (and probably will) go wrong. It’s hard to find someone who is willing to be critical of someone they support. A good mentor will understand that constructive criticism is one of the most important facets to building a long-term, successful venture.
3. Take it from innovative idea to profitable success.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, you’re probably filled to the brim with fresh ideas. When it’s time to turn that idea into results, a mentor will be there to offer you guidance on the actual tactics you’ll need to achieve, because a mentor has probably already been there, done that. Sometimes you need an outside perspective to cross your t’s and dot your I’s. When it’s time to leverage your ideas into a tangible, profitable, and scalable venture, a mentor with proven experience can help you understand the steps you need to take to transform an idea into a successful business.
4. Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know.
A new startup needs people. From a quality and experienced team, to new customers and clients, to investors, a successful startup goes beyond the product into the personal. Your mentor likely already has a track record of building successful businesses – and through those experiences, they have a strong network. Your startup can benefit from a mentor in your industry that can connect you to key players, journalists, potential investors, and stakeholders that may become part of your team or client base. A mentor from an outside industry can help you bring new faces and perspectives to your venture. All this is to say: a good mentor can introduce you to the right people, tell you where to network, and how to make a good impression, but it’s up to you to do the work and build the relationship from there.
5. Learn how to actually grow, build, and scale.
We’ve already established that even the most successful entrepreneurs depend on mentors to take it to the next level. No matter what stage of business you’re in, a mentor can help you. If you’re a brand new startup, you probably need guidance on how to build a team, develop a business plan, legally establish your business, and so on. A year or so later, you may need help developing a pitch deck or connecting with investors. And as your startup grows and scales, you’ll need help on expanding and growing intentionally. Sometimes the same mentor will help you reach each milestone – and sometimes you may find yourself seeking assistance from a new mentor. Again, your mentor has likely “been there, done that” and has (hopefully) asked you the tough questions. Now they are there to help you actually build the thing.
Every startup needs a mentor. It’s up to you to find one.
Our team at Next Level Ventures has decades of experience in a wide range of industries. From working for large, well-known corporations to brand new startups, our team of experts has seen just about everything. As we invest in companies we believe in, we also believe in helping take each startup to the Next Level.
We’d love to help your startup reach the Next Level too! Reach out to any of our team members to get started.