The road to success is riddled with the bones of solo business owners who thought they could do everything. And perhaps history sets unrealistic expectations for entrepreneurs. Countless stories are told of those who built a company from the ground up, doing every job under the sun before their hard work finally paid off. The desire to live out a similar tale can not only seem tempting — it can seem like something one has to do in order to build a winning business.
But the truth, as with many things, is hidden somewhere in between. An independent streak is never a bad thing in business. Self reliance is not a bad quality to have when starting a company. But there is no harm in learning from others who have walked the walk and talked the talk, who have braved the unknown, gotten some bruises along the way, and now wish to share their experiences with others.
Today, you’ll learn why you need to hire a mentor.
There’s a reason we’re more successful in groups. Why we often perform our best when running against others in a race, or why we’re more likely to stick to a diet if we’re doing it with a friend: there’s a source of some kind holding you accountable. You may not want to look weak or unable. You may not want to have to explain why you didn’t do what you said you’d do. Whatever the reason, accountability is one heck of a motivator.
As an entrepreneur, it’s tempting to let laziness get the better of you. You’ve worked all day — no one will notice if you don’t publish a blog post tomorrow, right? Hiring a mentor can push you to keep your business on track. A simple check-in call once a day can do
wonders for your productivity and motivate you to do what needs to be done. Because most of us, truth be told, don’t want to disappoint others. Also, we enjoy positive reinforcement. Being able to tell your mentor you knocked out all your tasks and hearing a “great job” is worth every penny.
When new NFL rookies come into the league, they often attend seminars where retired players speak about the joys and struggles they experienced throughout their careers. The veterans tell these new professionals what will be expected of them by their coaches and teammates. They teach them how to properly manage their finances. And they offer advice to those willing to ask.
Your business mentor is a veteran of their craft. They may not have spent years catching touchdowns, but they’ve spent a lot of time learning the ins and outs of what it takes to grow and manage a successful company. The importance of having someone like this who is ready to guide you through your own journey cannot be understated.
An Outside Perspective
There is nothing wrong with knowing everything there is to know about your business. And, likewise, attending industry conferences where you meet others who do the same thing can be beneficial. But insulating yourself with your own beliefs about your business, or surrounding yourself with others who feel similarly, can sometimes be dangerous. The phrases “groupthink” and “echo chamber” come to mind.
Your mentor can play an extremely important role as an outsider. If they can both approach your situation as someone well versed in business success, but also play the part of the customer who isn’t familiar with the intricacies of your industry, they can help you improve. There’s a reason companies hire focus groups when testing new ideas.
Your mentor can not only serve as a one-person focus group, they can also suggest solutions. That’s a powerful combination.
If your mentor has a long track record of success in business, chances are, they have a large rolodex of contacts they can turn to if they feel you need some assistance outside their expertise, or if they spot a potential opportunity.
Imagine you’re launching a new coaching program for those who want to get in shape and compete in Tough Mudder competitions. Now imagine your mentor is a former founder of three successful tech startups, and this mentor just happens to know another startup looking to offer on-site fitness training to its employees. You suddenly have a brand new business opportunity, simply because you knew someone with the right connections and enough sway to get the wheels turning.
A mentor can open up brand new doors for your business. If you’re willing to go through them, something fantastic could be waiting on the other side.
As you can see, there’s a lot to be gained from hiring a mentor — someone who can offer insight based on years and years of experience in business. If you could use a nudge, or advice, or someone who help you make the right connections, it’s one of the best calls you can make as an entrepreneur.