The Mentors Every Entrepreneur Needs In Their Life
Starting a business isn’t for the faint of heart. For most, years of hard work, perseverance and money will be required to achieve even mediocre success, and many will fail before they begin to break even or see a shred of growth. A team of supporters and admirers is vital to any entrepreneur’s success. These people help entrepreneurs set goals, think ideas through, question the status quo and ultimately influence them to action. Consider mentors your own personal board of directors. With this kind of team, every entrepreneur has a greater chance of being successful.
Do you have these mentors in your life?
This mentor aims for the stars. He thinks outside the box and pushes you to challenge yourself. Some (OK, most) of his ideas may be far-fetched, but he gets you thinking and believing that just about anything is possible. Working with a dreamer, you’ll begin to set goals that aren’t easily, if at all, attained. But, by setting loftier goals, you’ll be driven to attain those goals and in turn begin to take measures towards great success.
Remember meeting the girl that was completely out of your league? Without much thought, you sat up a little taller, cleaned up your act just a little and, in general, acted more like the kind of guy she would want to date. You innately began to take actions towards attaining your goal. Similarly, setting lofty goals for yourself in business will do exactly that: direct your actions positively towards reaching your goals.
Of course dreamers don’t just lie on the beach all day, willing their dreams to become reality. At some point dreamers must become doers and actually work to make dreams reality.
For example, by setting a goal to earn one- (or 10-) million dollars in the next year (or 10), you’ll begin to align your actions toward actually achieving that goal and earning that amount. You may decide to diversify your investments or streamline your business model in order to achieve higher profit margins, etc. At minimum, you may give excessive spending a second thought. The point being, once your dream is out there, you’ll actually start to work toward it.
The Devil’s Advocate
Admittedly a little bit of a downer, this mentor brings you back to Earth and forces you to think your dreams through. Do you have a business plan? Where will you get financing? How will you leverage your strengths? Address weakness?
Debbie Downer may burst the bubble you created working with the Dreamer, but she’s there to ask the hard questions that all smart entrepreneurs need to ask themselves when they start businesses. These questions help you develop systems that fundamentally ground your business and give it a fighting chance to succeed.
Without a realist to keep you in check, every one of your ideas seems like a great one. This mentor will help you take the ideas and hone them into actually being great ones.
Ask successful entrepreneurs and they will tell you that surrounding themselves with people smarter than them has been one of the keys to their success. Teachers teach. (Mind blowing, I know.)
Teachers make you a better entrepreneur because through them you constantly evolve and question things you otherwise never would have considered. They remind you how little you actually know and challenge you to delve deeper into understanding things about your business you otherwise may never have considered.
Not only do Teachers teach, they also give you an ideal to strive for; someone to whom you look up and model yourself after. Surrounding yourself with Teachers will influence you to behave more like them and in turn be more successful in your business.
All entrepreneurs need Believers in their lives to help them nurture their souls, make them feel good about themselves and repair damaged egos. Friends, husbands, girlfriends, mothers, bartenders: people who are always willing to lend an ear and a sympathetic “that sucks,” or enthusiastic “that’s your best idea yet!” when you most need it.
Believers may not have a clue about what you’re doing in your business but they want you to succeed and they want you to feel good about yourself while doing it. They support your long hours with hot meals and kind words, ask you “how’s it going?” when others seem to have forgotten, and encourage you to give it another try when you’re ready to throw in the towel.
Who do you think Steve Jobs turned to in 1985 when he was fired from Apple, a company he co-founded? I actually have no idea, but I’m willing to bet a Silicon Valley bartender and his sister played a huge role in helping him nurse his majorly bruised ego.
Believers support you because you as a person are important to them. The success of the business matters less to them than your well-being. Believers are thrilled when you succeed but are also the first ones there when you fail. Let’s face it, we all need a little love in our lives.
Similarly, the Cheerleader is your biggest fan and an important member of your winning team. But Cheerleaders don’t just believe in you because they love you (“thanks Mom!”) or because you’re keeping them in business (“I’ll have another”), Cheerleaders actually understand the game you’re playing and want to help you succeed. Cheerleaders spread the word about your business; introduce you to other mentors and people that can help you grow. They truly believe what you’re doing is great, and they want to be a part of it, though sometimes for their own monetary gain.
Finally, every entrepreneur needs a Consigliere, in their life. A combination of all of the aforementioned mentors rolled into one, “your Robert Duvall” gives primarily disinterested advice to help you make major decisions. Ideally, this confidant is a figurehead and not someone you’re confiding in to carry out mob hits.
Your Consigliere can be anyone you trust to give it to you straight, no bullshit. A spouse, community leader, godfather, business partner, life partner… you get the point. It’s someone you could trust with your life or tax returns.
Mentors are crucial to your success as an entrepreneur because they shape you as an individual. They guide and influence you to think outside the box, aim high and take decisive actions towards your goals. Mentors serve as your own personal board of directors. So respect them, appreciate them, and do yourself a favor and learn something from them.
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