15 May 2016
I am often asked by young entrepreneurs for advice on how to take their business to the next level and, whilst I’m always flattered to be asked, I am also always reminded of just how important it is for established business leaders to share their experience with those new to the fold.
In my eyes, business leaders have a responsibility to help those at the start of their entrepreneurial journey. Although I never found a mentor in the early stages of my business, I’ve relied so much on the wisdom of others during my career, across both my business and personal lives.
Not many entrepreneurs will tell you that they reached where they are today on their own. And if they do, they’re probably lying!
Richard Branson often talks about how he was inspired by his own mentor, Sir Freddie Laker, who he considers to be integral to Virgin Atlantic’s success in the airline industry. Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Steve Jobs, who gave him advice on how to build passionate teams. And Bill Gates famously credits Warren Buffet for teaching him how to deal with tough situations and develop a long-term business plan.
In the early days of any start-up, support and business advice are just as, if not more important than having the right level of funding. A strong network of support nurtures new entrepreneurs for better than great sums of money will. It helps new business leaders to realise where the best opportunities are and which risks might be worth taking – or not. Most of all, it is great to have someone listen to all your ideas and give you their honest opinion.
There is evidence that suggests that entrepreneurs who look for mentors are more likely to be successful. I think it’s probably as much to do with their own character, as it is with the advice they’ll receive.
An entrepreneur who is willing to admit that they don’t know everything is one who will be able to reach out, build great teams and create strong connections. An entrepreneur who is willing to listen to the journeys of others will be able to avoid making similar mistakes, costing them time and money.
There are benefits involved with mentoring for business leaders too. I love meeting people with fresh ideas and perspectives. Meeting other entrepreneurs always make me think again about my own business goals and practices. I’m still learning, after all!
Whilst it would be easy to push forward on your own, thinking that you know better; or be an entrepreneur who doesn’t have the time to help others, taking the time to mentor one another is mutually beneficial.
You may be surprised what you learn from each other. Why learn the hard way when you can learn from others?
Who do you think are inspiring business leaders/mentors?