Mentors can help you see faults only veterans can anticipate.
What does one need to be a successful entrepreneur? An outstanding idea, a pretty impressive business model, a fair amount of initial investment and maybe some trustworthy co-founders. And you are ready to go!
Wrong. Not by a long shot. Every entrepreneurial journey is incomplete without this secret weapon: Mentors.
It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how good your business concept is or that you are a graduate from a top business school. Mentoring forms an important phase of entrepreneurship. A common factor in every successful start-up story is a mentor.
Mentors can help start-ups attract investments, in legal and financial processes or even tweak the business model to create an encompassing social and financial impact. The success of mentorship, like any other relationship, depends largely on the individual characteristics, thinking and knowledge. So one needs to choose mentors wisely.
Mentors can help you fine-tune your business idea to make it more marketable to your client base. Take the case of Phanindra Sama, the founder of redBus.in. Sama and his other co-founders had spent five months to create a software BOSS that could make booking of bus-tickets hassle-free for both the bus-operators and customers. But, none of the bus operators seemed to take a liking to the software. Until, their mentor, Sanjay Anandram came along and helped them make some favourable changes in their business plan. In June 2013, redBus.in was sold to Ibibo Group for an astounding INR 800 crore.
Mark Zuckerberg is no stranger to being a mentee. He is the founder and CEO of Facebook, a social networking platform that has pretty much taken over our social lives. This man, who dropped out of college in his second year, was mentored by Steve Jobs and Don Graham. Steve Jobs is said to have given him advice about how he could build a team that was as focused as him on building “high quality and good things”.
Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, is the founder and technology advisor of Microsoft. The Harvard drop-out credits part of his success to his mentor, financial mogul, Warren Buffet. Gates has credited Buffet for teaching him how to deal with tough situations and how to think long-term.
Back home too, we have some great stories of mentors and their successful progeny. Lifelong Wellness is a product of Xcode Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd, a company founded by Saleel Mohammad in 2011. This genomic technology process to screen DNA would not have been possible if Saleel Mohammed had not met his mentor, A Balachanran. Through Balachandran, Mohammed met his second mentor, R Narayanan, who later went on to become an angel investor and co-founder of the company.
Another sublime example is of social entrepreneur, Bala Tripura Sundari. In 2011, she set out on her journey to build a finishing school that could provide skills training to students in rural India. She was fully equipped with the required knowledge and a business plan. But it wasn’t easy as it seemed. Her mentor, Radhika Meenakshi Shankar, gave her some concrete advice and worked with her to get the government subsidies to help revenue flow.
An experienced mentor will greatly aid your personal development as an executive as well as your business. Whether your relationship is short-lived or ongoing throughout your business journey, mentorship can empower. So, if you want to increase the chance of your business succeeding, find a mentor.