Growing up, many of us had someone – be it a teacher, elderly neighbour or parent – who offered invaluable advice to us, from how to achieve our dreams to overcoming arguments with friends.
As we venture into entrepreneurship and have to make critical decisions, the role of a mentor becomes vital.
Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg. Warren Buffett mentored Bill Gates and Maya Angelou mentored Oprah Winfrey. Although I’ve been in the business world for more than a decade, I still have the same mentor and have also mentored others.
While every entrepreneur’s journey is unique, my most challenging times were those when I felt lost and needed advice from a more experienced individual; someone like my mentor. If there’s one thing that is constant in the business world, regardless of how experienced you are, it’s that there’s always someone out there who has something to teach you.
But how do mentors help us and how can entrepreneurs get the most out of them?
For starters, a mentor is your sounding board or your mirror. A mentor should be experienced, a person you can learn from and, preferably, who operates in your industry or a related industry.
To get the most out of a mentor, you should foster a relationship with them, so you can discuss your business and concerns honestly. While there are numerous mentors out there, what distinguishes a mentor from others is that they help you beyond your business’s day-to-day challenges.
A great mentor is someone who encourages you to take a deeper look into personal issues that can affect your business, such as a lack of motivation or the fear of success.
While these are personal issues, we often overlook the fact that our mindset can hinder our success and cap our business’s growth. When managing a business, it may seem that you are always moving, but you might not necessarily be growing.
As we venture into entrepreneurship and have to make critical decisions, the role of a mentor becomes vital
Manar Al Hinai
There will also be times when you feel demotivated or believe that you’ve hit a glass ceiling. You can also be resting on your laurels and take your business for granted, believing the revenue stream will never be interrupted.
At some point during my entrepreneurship journey, I felt that there was no room for one of my ventures to grow and selling it seemed like the right choice.
Even though I have years of business experience, I needed help from my mentor. Although my mind was set on selling the business, my mentor advised me to switch geographies and that made all the difference.
Working with a mentor can help you navigate through plateaus, so that your business can grow despite them. They help you identify new avenues for growth or, in my case, a new target audience.
Is it best that your mentor is an investor in your business, or a business partner? I would advise against that. You need somebody with no stake in your business or has no personal relationship with you, such as family members or friends.
The reason for this is because you need someone who will be able to provide you with objective insights that you may be too blind to see.