Why founders should con­sider men­tor­ing?

Tehran Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Men­tor­ing is widely rec­og­nized, both within the en­trepreneurial, start-up com­mu­nity and the wider pro­fes­sional world as im­por­tant to ca­reer pro­gres­sion and suc­cess. Yet while we can all ap­pre­ci­ate the ben­e­fits of men­tor­ing, there are a lot of founders out there who ei­ther aren’t men­tor­ing peo­ple or haven’t con­sid­ered men­tor­ing. Why?

Any fel­low startup en­trepreneurs out there will know just how lit­tle free time we have, par­tic­u­larly in the early stages of set­ting up a busi­ness. This is prob­a­bly the sin­gle big­gest rea­son why founders’ shy away from men­tor­ing. But what a lot of founders don’t re­al­ize, is just how lit­tle time you have to give up to men­tor some­one. As a men­tor, you can set the ex­pec­ta­tions and you can de­cide just how much or how lit­tle time you wish to of­fer to a prospec­tive mentee; this is just one of the rea­sons why men­tor­ing is so valu­able and em­pow­er­ing – be­cause it’s done by both par­ties set­ting the ex­pec­ta­tions. Men­tor­ing has no for­mal rules, al­though set­ting bound­aries and de­cid­ing upon ob­jec­tives can be very valu­able. What’s more, with what­ever amount of time you de­cide to give to men­tor­ing, you can have a very sig­nif­i­cant im­pact.

Hav­ing men­tored oth­ers for a while now (as well as be­ing men­tored), I re­al­ize that it isn’t just about giv­ing back and help­ing oth­ers. Men­tor­ing can help you to grow as an en­tre­pre­neur. I’ve been men­tor­ing one univer­sity stu­dent for six months. He is de­vel­op­ing his first busi­ness ven­ture. In men­tor­ing him we speak monthly about the chal­lenges he faces, the mar­kets he is tar­get­ing and the prod­uct he is de­vel­op­ing. Hav­ing these con­ver­sa­tions has opened my eyes to more mar­ket­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for my own busi­ness, as well as get­ting me to think about busi­ness from other per­spec­tives. I think that a lot of founders are so wrapped up in their own busi­ness that they can eas­ily for­get the rest of the world’s prod­ucts, busi­ness ven­tures and ul­ti­mately op­por­tu­ni­ties. I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past. But the men­tor­ing that I do con­tin­ues to un­lock these op­por­tu­ni­ties for me.

Be­ing both men­tored and men­tor­ing oth­ers, I know how much ben­e­fit my men­tors can pro­vide to me – and in­deed do on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. That, ad­mit­tedly, was a big part of why I be­gan to look at men­tor­ing oth­ers. As a start-up founder, you are con­stantly aware of the ex­treme learn­ing curves, the risks taken and the feel­ing of be­ing so far from your com­fort zone. These risks of­ten re­sult in fail­ure. It is sim­ply a fact of life, not only for en­trepreneurs but in­deed any­one tak­ing risks. But min­i­miz­ing those risks and learn­ing from those fail­ures is a key part of a busi­ness. I have learnt a lot from the mis­takes and fail­ures of busi­ness so far, but I can also learn from the fail­ures of oth­ers and this can take shape in the form of both learn­ings from my men­tors and my mentees. Of­ten, we think that only those who are men­tor­ing us have things to teach us. This couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth. There have been sev­eral oc­ca­sions when mentees of mine have taught me of their fail­ures and in do­ing so saved me from re­peat­ing these mis­takes. So, if you are in the start-up space and de­vel­op­ing a busi­ness, found­ing a com­pany or have al­ready set up ven­tures, then I would strongly urge you to con­sider men­tor­ing. It may sur­prise you just how much you learn from teach­ing and help­ing oth­ers. And if noth­ing else, giv­ing back is al­ways re­ward­ing. It’s some­thing I’m pas­sion­ate about and I am now de­vel­op­ing PushFar.com, to help con­nect men­tors and mentees, both in the en­trepreneurial sec­tor and the wider pro­fes­sional world too.

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