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Startups – Look for Mentors Before Looking for Investors

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

“90% of all startups fail” − How’s that for a five−word horror story?

The ground reality of any startup story is its chance of failure. And while there are many reasons why startups struggle and fail, there are a consistent set of reasons why they succeed as well.

Mentorship is one such seemingly unlikely candidate that can fuel a start−up’s growth story. Almost all successful startup founders credit their success to a mentor. Be it Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson?all of them have benefitted professionally by learning from their mentors.

Mentoring relationships are powerful relationships. Research shows that 33% of business founders who are mentored by successful entrepreneurs go on to become top performers. Research also shows that 70% of mentored businesses survive more than five years, double the rate for non−mentored small businesses over that same period

Getting an investor to pump in money into your business might seem like the hard part, but reality suggests otherwise. The environment is awash with investors and venture capitalists looking to pump in money into the next big idea. However, there’s more to running a business than getting the initial flow of money into the coffers.

Here are some reasons why entrepreneurs might want to look for mentors before they start looking for investors:

Data doesn’t lie

The numbers support our claim that mentors play a crucial role in the success of a startup.

An experienced and skillful mentor will guide you through the first steps your startup takes and also during its growth period.

According to a survey by Sage, almost 93 percent of startups admit that mentorship is instrumental to success.

Experience is a valuable asset and is crucial to business success, and that’s why mentoring ranks so high on the list. Having a mentor on your side gives you access to the mentor’s experience to amplify your chances of success.

Mentors are also industry experts

A mentor is not the one whom you go to when you want your idea to be validated. Idea validation is to be done by your potential set of customers.

A mentor is usually an industry expert who can identify and poke holes in your business proposal only to make it stronger and more airtight. These are the experts who can help you resolve that your business is facing. They are the people who will help you navigate the potential minefield that emerges in the form of government policies and regulations, and investor agreements. They help you understand the nuances of different business to

business negotiations, employee management, and develop your leadership skills and improve your day to day decision−making abilities.

A mentor is a trusted advisor

A good mentor helps you grow your startup. They help you grow your company in the right direction and avoid pitfalls that could be potentially disastrous. When running a growth-oriented startup, an entrepreneur has to focus on so many different things, and it helps to know that you can leverage someone’s expertise when it comes to making critical decisions.

Quality mentorship also has an indelible and positive impact on entrepreneurs embarking on their journey. They are able to give you the reassurance you need and placate your fears with their years of experience. Mentors also help you build your self-confidence and help you see every challenge as an opportunity − these significantly contribute to business success.

Build your EQ

It’s critical to build emotional intelligence to ensure entrepreneurial success. A sure fire way to take a business to its doom is to make critical decisions based on emotions. However, if you have a mentor to guide you, you will get a better handle of your emotional quotient. Your mentor will also guide you on how to cope with and manage emotional upheaval, which is quite the constant in a startup journey. They help you identify the right ways to respond to situations that seem out of control and make sharp and decisive judgments when things don’t seem to be going your way.

Taking a fledgling startup and turning it into a flourishing business takes experience. It needs insights that come only from getting your hands dirty. It needs the capability to anticipate change and make the commensurating right decisions. And the one place to source all this is from mentors.

So what are you waiting for? Look for your mentor who will fuel your growth story before you look for your investors.

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