What do all great entrepreneurs have in common? They had trusted mentors throughout their careers, helping to point them in the right direction and make tough choices along the way.
However, finding a mentor isn’t always easy. Here are some thoughts from proven business leaders on why mentors are so vital to success, and tips for how to find one.
Why Mentorship Matters
“Without strong mentors, I may still have reached my career goals through willpower and work – it just would have taken a lot longer. A great mentor is like an accelerator for your goals and can dramatically speed up your results, whatever you choose to pursue.” – Jeff Goodwin, Vice President of Direct to Consumer and Performance Marketing at Orgain
“Think of a mentor as an extra set of eyes on all the decisions you make and the roadmap ahead. They have been there, done that, and are happy to share their thoughts. Without a mentor, you’re handicapping your ability to overcome the biggest challenges in your career.” – Omid Semino, CEO of Diamond Mansion
“The power of a great mentor can’t be understated, especially in the entrepreneurial world. You’ve really got to blaze your own trail, and some extra input goes a long way to make things more manageable.” – Annabel Love, Co-Founder, and COO at Nori
“Everyone needs someone who can give advice and offer suggestions, especially when they have the experience that you lack. So, set out to find someone that you can connect with, and form a mutual collaboration. Run ideas by them, and in return, you can fill them in on the latest innovations. A great mentor is priceless, so be sure to always show appreciation and stay in contact, even when you think you’ve got it.” – Dylan Fox, Founder, and CEO of Assembly AI
Finding a Great Mentor
“The secret to finding a great mentor is finding one you can speak openly with. If you’re always posturing for your mentor, it’s hard for your mentor to understand where you need to grow. And the more of a friendship you have, the more openly you can communicate.” – Darren Litt, Chairman, and Co-Founder of MarketerHire
“You always seem to encounter the best mentors when you least expect it – that’s just how the universe works. Be open to talking with people in your industry and network as you normally would, then follow up and ask for advice if you feel so inclined.” – Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ
“What are your long-term goals, and what must be accomplished in the short term to make them a reality? These are the questions you should be asking – they’ll help clarify where and how to seek mentorship in your industry.” – Roy Ferman, Founder, and CEO of Seek Capital
“You never know when you’ll cross paths with a great friend, mentor, or business partner. That’s why you should always put your best foot forward, keep an open mind, and maintain a positive attitude no matter the scenario.” – Bill Glaser, Founder of Outstanding Foods
Avoid these Mentorship Mistakes
“If you don’t have a mentor at a certain stage in your career, it’s not the end of the world. Trust your instincts – get advice from a wide range of people. Don’t blindly follow their advice, of course, because this can backfire. It’s often best to go by intuition.” – Brittany Dolin, Co-Founder of Pocketbook Agency
“There’s no need to force a mentorship dynamic that just isn’t useful for you. Opt-out if you aren’t getting the value you want from the relationship. Be polite and simply move on because you’ve got no time to waste.” – Chris Gadek, VP of Growth at AdQuick
“I don’t think you should pay for mentorship. That adds a weird layer of obligation to the relationship that isn’t always productive. A mentor should want to help you voluntarily, in my opinion.” – Benjamin Smith, Founder of Disco
“The mediocre mentor tells. The good mentor explains. The superior mentor demonstrates. The greatest mentors inspire!” – Lucia Ballas-Traynor, Director of Business Development at River Towns Media
The Student Becomes the Teacher
“Mentorship is about learning from the best, becoming the best, and teaching that information to the next generation of innovators and leaders. It’s really the circle of life in a nutshell. Be ready to mentor others once you’ve reached a certain level of success.” – Bing Howenstein, Founder of All33
“A mentor doesn’t need to fit into a certain box or do certain things to help you. Sometimes you need a sounding board and someone to listen to your thoughts on a challenge you face. Don’t overcomplicate the role of the mentor.” – Raul Porto, Owner, and President of Porto’s Bakery
“Learning is about finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know, too. Everyone is a learner, a doer, and a teacher.” – Author Richard Bach
“You don’t need to be a young person to benefit from mentorship, nor do you need to be a super-successful billionaire to be a good mentor to someone else. It’s about context, and most of all, it’s about being a good listener and showing empathy.” – Nik Sharma, CEO of Sharma Brands
“Remember all the lessons you learn along the way in your career, whether you discover them for yourself or get help from a mentor. These nuggets of wisdom should be preserved, remembered, and shared.” – Ben Thompson, CEO of Hardwood Bargains
Mentorship is a must-have component of any successful career. Use these tips to find a helpful mentor and work with them to realize your potential.