Starting a business? Start with a mentor

By Editor March 23, 2015


Mentors have a storied history in the business world. Some of the most famous and successful entrepreneurs have benefited from the help of a wise advisor. Mark Zuckerberg had Marc Andreessen; Warren Buffett had Benjamin Graham; Steve Jobs had Robert Friedland; Marissa Meyer had Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Many of us have been mentored by our mothers and fathers, as well. My father was a longtime executive in the automotive safety industry, and as I started out in sales, he was there to provide not only feedback and criticism, but added confidence.

Regardless of how driven and smart you are, the guidance of someone with more experience can be invaluable—especially when it comes to a risky, unpredictable endeavor like starting a business.

Making a startup successful is a stream of challenges big and small. From hiring and paying employees, to finding new clients, to securing funding, you will be faced with anything and everything imaginable.

While some new business owners prefer to ‘learn on the run,’ others have come to realize the benefits of finding a mentor.

This doesn’t mean somebody else is in charge of your business. This doesn’t mean you will never make a mistake. What it does mean is that you will have access to professional guidance when you need it the most.


Here are three reasons why reaching out to a mentor may be one of the best business decisions you ever make:

Expert advice. Are you worried about making too many mistakes? Are you concerned that you don’t have the experience necessary to make your business a success in a reasonable period of time?

A business mentor can provide not only advice, but the peace of mind of knowing you’re not the first person to go through this and there are ways to deal with the stress and doubts that may come with it.

Networking. Some people believe who you know is as important as what you know.

With a mentor by your side, you can supercharge your networking activity. For example, your mentor could introduce you to a key client or supplier. Imagine what that would mean to your business moving forward. Anyone who has watched Shark Tank has seen the value of having a partner with powerful connections.

Little to no risk. Some business owners pay for the services of a mentor, but you don’t have to go down this path. There are other options—those with less risk—to consider. For example, SCORE has a free mentoring program that offers confidential advice based on your goals and the maturity of your business (how long you’ve been in existence).

A mentor is also a great person to bounce ideas off before you go spending money on them and taking on serious risk.

As your business gets off the ground and you begin to consider the future, do so with a mentor by your side. This will go a long way in increasing your chances of success.