Startup Mentoring: Process and Benefits

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Mentorship is an alliance in which a more experienced or a person with great knowledge helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. Mentor is someone who must have an expertise in a subject he/she wants someone to be mentored. A mentor is the person whom you rely on to give you advice and guidance, especially in your career.

For a successful startup, Mentorship is considered as a critical foundational component. Great product/service for a intense pain point and good market grip are good, but a great and ideal mentor is equally important to sustain and grow these elements for any startup. Research from the Federation of Small Businesses has shown that small businesses that have received mentorship have superior survivability rates in the market when compared to non-mentored businesses. Below points are the five critical elements that every startup should look for in a startup mentor:

Industry Knowledge: A mentor from the same industry/specific area of the idea of your startup would be a great help in making you understand the different shades of the business and the varied nature of the present market. Entrepreneurs: If the person himself is an entrepreneur and gone through all those phases/ processes of entrepreneurship and also has been successful in it. This will be the best choice you've done to your startup to be mentored by. Mentors from corporates who manage large businesses are great, but it is a different conflict/competition when you need to validate your idea, raise money and direct the company when in difficult times. Entrepreneurship is hard and someone who has gone through that path can understand the various issues and guide you appropriately. A mentor who has built a company from idea to exit is ideal for your startup. Selecting one is also important.

Network Effects: A mentor with strong connections in the industry and the ecosystem you are handling in is highly extravagant. A mentor has the potential to open multiple doors for you in order to get success. The mentor could take advantage of his/her connections to bring in extended network effects that can provide you with early customer trials, strategic engagements, potential customers, interested investors and many more.  Chemistry: For any startup, a mentee needs to keep up good relations with the mentor because you will have to work closely and observe everything closely with your mentor. Therefore, a good chemistry among mentee and the mentor will help the startup immensely. Any startup or the young entrepreneur these days, faces depression and blues, but the guidance of a right mentor can help you reduce lot of burden. Hence, keeping good relations with mentor might help you and your startup exceptionally.

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Visionary and Problem Solver: There are two key elements for any startup, to find creative solutions to solve current problems and looking beyond the current daily buzz of the startup. A great startup mentor should help you find great solutions for the problems faced by your startup like, whether the startup will be funding, technology, accessing the market/organisation culture. The mentor should help you build solutions to these problems creatively and triumphantly, and bring forward his experience-based knowledge to tackle similar situations. The mentor should also help you look beyond the daily functioning and strategical issues faced by your startup and help you build a magnificent/ inspiring vision for it. The mentor should help you look at the transforming technology trends and changing market dynamics, help you build substitute revenue streams, and scale and set your position strongly in the market.

Having a mentor while building a company/startup is the most essential one. Surveys have shown that 70% of small businesses that receive mentorship had survived for the past first five years and 88% of those receiving mentorship say that mentorship is invaluable. A mentor comprises of several things in one like being a teacher, a confident coach... The mentor-mentee relationship can be formal or informal. They can have a specialty( can go to any extent for success of their mentee) or just offer general business experiences. But, one thing is sure that no two mentors are alike . An effective mentor will have a powerful influence on your entrepreneurial life and entrepreneurial success. Here are few benefits one can gain by having great mentor- mentee relationship;

Gain some Perspective, you can just keep guesses and can spend too much time overthinking, just become blind to the things you see every day. As a startup owner or an entrepreneur, one must have the learned skill of seeming an issue from the eyes of others( i.e. in the customer perspective). For this, a mentor can surely provide you with all those alternative perspectives you need to understand for a better tomorrow. Advice, based on experience is the best kind and one can gain alot from this. A mentor is one who can offer you a unique point of view, different from those who have never been in their position as a business owner or an entrepreneur. You’ll find that advice often very spontaneous and comes from every approach, but quality advice is very required. Mentors can offer advice on business matters such as seeking investments, hiring, partnering and several other complex business matters with complete confidence.

Confidence, Knowing you have someone in your corner is a confidence booster in itself, but knowing you have someone experienced and credible in your corner is even better. Going into an anxious and stressful pitch becomes easier when you know you’ve had a great coaching/mentoring. Not only that, but a pat on the back after a job well done feels great i.e. congratulating on small successes. Gaining Other Relationships, Networking is key in the business world. Your mentor is likely to have an already built network to which they can let you in. Simply having an introduction from your mentor can create a new relationship that opens many doors for you and your business that you couldn’t have opened by yourself. You can also utilize the relationships to find other mentors, investors, partners, and more. Don’t depend completely on your mentor, though, you still have to do some networking on your own!

Encouragement, throughout the startup process, you’re likely to experience a failure here and there . But you don’t want to have to go through it alone. A mentor have already experienced these failures first earlier and can advise you on how to stay motivated. If you can see that they survived through their hardships, it can be a great sign that you’ll be fine too and get succeeded one day. You can learn many new skills which can help you and your startup in many ways.

Overall, be careful and cognizant while choosing a mentor for your startup. A single mentor may not have all the elements listed above, and therefore you may need two or three mentors with different levels of engagements guiding you. But if you do find a person with all the above characteristics, you will definitely benefit from his or her guidance.

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