Mentors and mentorship – their importance in an entrepreneur’s life
Mentor, noun: an experienced and trusted advisor.
Mentoring has its links to the Ancient Greeks. In fact the word mentor is to be found in Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus, king of Ithaca, fights in the Trojan War and entrusts the care of his household to Mentor, who serves as teacher and overseer of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus.
Over the years the term mentor has come to be associated with teachers, trusted advisors, guides, experts etc.
Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey and often entrepreneurs find themselves alone and in need of support, advice or just someone who can give guidance and answer questions, and it is here that a mentor’s role garners importance.
Why mentors are important?
A mentor for an entrepreneur is a lighthouse, compass and the drinking water while you are at sea. While there is no undermining the importance of experience and technical know how that the mentor provides – the most important support is to keep you charged up especially when the chips are down, says Nehal Modi, the Founder of Yellow Bulbs, a marketing marketplace.
Nehal is not the only one who thinks so. Mentors also act as sounding boards, keep you grounded and ask tough questions, and help you stay motivated and confident during tough times.
“Having a mentor is not only a guideline that directs you to the right path in your journey but is also a source of motivation and inspiration. As a young woman entrepreneur in the field of manufacturing, having a mentor was definitely important to guide me in the technical and real life aspects but also help me boost my confidence at different times during my failure,” says Ankita Shroff, the founder of SAV Chemicals Private Limited in Pune.
Who is a mentor?
When we asked a few women entrepreneurs to define what a mentor meant to them, we got multiple responses:
“A mentor is someone who gives you an aerial view of what’s going on. He/She is the third-eye and your ‘go – to’ person in times of confusion and problem,” shares Nishita Mantry.
For Yukti Mehandiratta, the Founder of Concept Exhibitions and a model and TV actor, “A mentor is the one who puts a perspective to your passion.”
Archita Sisodia, Co-founder of Superheroes Incorporated says that, “Mentors guide us to build our business, they set higher target, push us to work harder and support us when we are down. Mentors are also gateways to opportunities.”
According to Sakshi Mahajan of The Portret Project, “It is extremely important to have a mentor when you are starting a business. A mentor plays the role of a teacher, friend and confidant during this journey. But he/she also has to be someone who cares about your growth unconditionally without any ulterior motives.”
How to find a mentor?
“Your mentors in life are important so choose them wisely”
– Robert Kiyosaki, the founder of the Rich Dad Company.
Nishita Mantry, the CEO of My Lifetranscript, says that to find a mentor is a challenge and the best way to find a mentor is to look for someone who shows 100% interest and commitment in your life and your growth. One can find their mentors in their family, friends, partner and teacher.
Each entrepreneur is looking for different things from a mentor and that becomes the guiding factor to finding a mentor.
According to Sheryl Sandberg, “Peers can also mentor and sponsor one another. There is a saying that, “All advise is autobiographical”. Friends at the same stage of their careers may actually provide more current and useful counsel.”
So often established women entrepreneurs can provide counsel and mentorship to other upcoming entrepreneurs.