SUCCESS IS NOT BUILT ON SUCCESS. IT’S BUILT ON FAILURE. IT’S BUILT ON FRUSTRATION. SOMETIMES IT’S BUILT ON CATASTROPHE. – SUMNER REDSTONE
We all know that 90% of startups fail, but what some might not know is that 70% of business who use mentors will survive twice as long as those that do not use mentors. Let us face it, the startup ecosystem is a tough one to survive in, but that does not stop new startups from springing up. Last year alone, the number of startups in India grew to 4,750, with a large number of them being ecommerce startups. The chances of survival in the ecommerce industry is even slimmer than it is in other sectors. Given the rapid rise in the number of startups, there is an increasing need for mentorship, as it can be the difference between a successful startup and a failed startup. In this post, we will tell you who a mentor is and why you need one. We will also tell you what makes a good mentor, as well as offer you a few tips in finding the right mentor for you. After reading this, you will possess a full knowledge of why and how someone mentoring a startup can increase its chances of survival.
Who is a mentor?
A mentor is basically someone who helps a person with lesser experience through a phase, process or task. A mentor is someone who has garnered ample experience in a particular area and helps guide, grow and develop someone who wants to tread the same path. In the startup ecosystem, a mentor looks to guide a startup in every step along the way, helping them overcome the many rigors, challenges and uncertainties involved in running a startup.
Why does your startup need a mentor?
There are many reasons why someone mentoring a startup can prove beneficial to that startup. We have outlined some of the most important below:
· Founders garner Practical Experience:Practical experience is something that many founders lack, as many of them have not run any business venture in the past. Someone mentoring a startup will help provide practical insight into the day to day operations of a startup. The mentor will help the startup avoid mistakes he has made in the past. Solutions to often reoccurring problems in the startup ecosystem will be easily provided by the mentor. Practical experience cannot be gotten from reading startup books or articles, but a mentor can help provide it.
· Networking Opportunities:Having a mentor will expose your startup to several networking opportunities. You will be exposed to top influencers in the startup business, as well as possibly gather important information and knowledge from them. Often times, mentors can also lead startups to venture capitalists who can help with the funding of the startup.
· Founders gain Reassurance:A mentor can help the startup founders gain reassurance in their business. There is no doubt that having an experienced person help you shape your product will increase your confidence and reassure you that you are on the right part. The mental strength provided by someone mentoring your startup is not one to be dismissed.
· Someone to vent to:Running a startup is often times frustrating. There is bound to be anger and mental exhaustion. Sometimes, we all need someone to talk and vent to. A startup mentor comes in handy here, as they will listen to all you have to say, helping you focus on the bigger picture.
· Get an Objective point of View: There is often a bias in making business decisions, hence the need for a third party most times. A startup mentor can help provide an objective point of view, devoid of bias. This will help startup founders see things from a different perspective when making important decisions.
What makes a good startup mentor?
Selecting a startup mentor is one thing, but selecting a good startup mentor is often daunting, as sometimes one does not know what to look for. Here are some important characteristics of a good mentor:
· Experience:A good startup mentor should be very well experienced. You do not want someone who does not know so much about the startup business mentoring you. A good mentor must possess ample experience in your field, so as to guide you and offer relevant and useful advice when necessary.
· Successful track record:A good startup mentor must have a proven track record of success. You have to be sure that your mentor knows how to win and is offering you winning strategies.
· Patient and Supportive: Patience and supportiveness are key characteristics of a god startup mentor. He or she must be willing to listen to you, understanding your fears and frailties, and helping you get through them.
· Objective:A good mentor should be objective. He or she must be willing to provide you with objective and realistic advice.
· Well Connected: It pays if your startup mentor is well connected in the startup business. This will open you to opportunities that might come from his network.
Tips on choosing a mentor
We have carefully curated some tips that are relevant in selecting the right mentor for you:
· Know what you want and who you want:You should know what you want as a startup founder. Know where your startup is going and what you need a mentor for. This will guide you in choosing the right mentor for you.
· Choose someone in the same industry as your startup:It is very much recommended that you select a mentor who has ample experience in the industry you are working in. If you are an ecommerce startup, you would need a mentor who has expert-level experience in the ecommerce sector, as it is easier for him to tell you what you might face in such sector.
· Choose someone who shares the same values as you:You should select someone who shares the same values as you. This will help your relationship, and help you connect better with such a person.
When is the right time to get a mentor?
It is very much recommended for a startup to get a mentor in its early stages. This will enable the mentor guide the startup right from its root product development stage, helping the startup avoid mistakes. Often times, making early mistakes as regards finances, legal processes, product development, etc., can prove detrimental to a startup. You need a practical insight into the industry you are venturing into, so as to help you plan well before you jump into the market. A mentor can help provide all of this, which will undoubtedly increase the chances of survival of your startup.
There is no doubt that running a startup is a herculean task, but someone mentoring a startup can make the task many times easier. The right mentor should be experienced in the highs and lows of running a startup. It is important that you also add value to your mentor, as it helps improve your relationship. The Indian ecommerce industry is projected to grow to $120 billion in 2020, and you definitely want a share of this cake.