Whether you call the person mentor or advice-giver, a start-up business owner needs someone who will guide him or her in terms of providing relevant business advice or support towards effective realization of the stated goals. Having a mentor also becomes necessary because business be it online or offline encompasses different parts and calls for interplay of numerous factors to be successful.
In Nigeria, like other developing countries, young entrepreneurs usually experienced personal and general difficulties while choosing mentors for the growth of their businesses. At personal level, according to Richard Branson, a large reason entrepreneurs don’t get mentors is the perception that it is a sign of weakness. To the experts, this is a big misconception, which has the propensity of ruining their businesses both at the developing and maturity stages. On general note, established businesses who supposed to support upcoming ones are not forthcoming. Majority of them believe that advising another person in their areas of business would amount to disclosure of strategies and techniques they are employing for their business growth and sustainability.
However, there are exceptions to this situation. For instance, a great number of small businesses are thriving in South-Eastern, Nigeria because of the high presence of mentorship in the region. Experience has shown that an average Igbo trader would set up another business for his or her trainee in another location with the main purpose of expanding the business. That is why we have many successful entrepreneurs of Igbo origin across the country.
Suffice to note that mentors are not necessarily to be entrepreneurs, they could be from family, relatives, friends or an established professionals. One can choose an academics as mentor as long as the person has what it takes to provide the needed advice in the sector entrepreneur is exploring. It is highly recommended to have mentors who have the skills germane to entrepreneurs’ business goals. Technopreneur needs to have someone who is resourceful and knowledgeable in Information and Communication Technologies likewise an agribusiness start-up owner should have someone with agriculture and finance experience. In other words, mentors must have the knowledge and skills that would keep emerging entrepreneurs focused.
Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg similarly Gates credited Buffet for teaching him how to deal with tough situations and how to think long-term. Richard Branson understands the importance of mentorship. Branson asked British airline entrepreneur, Sir Freddie Laker, for guidance during his struggle to get Virgin Atlantic off the ground. Therefore, there is no excuse for aspiring entrepreneurs not to have one before starting their businesses.
Finding the right mentor (s)?
It is glaring that there is no alternative to having mentors, especially while the business is at infant stage, as observed earlier getting the good person is difficult. To get valuable ones, experts say young entrepreneurs need to avail themselves opportunity of different business events and meetings because such occasions bring amateurs and veterans together. Local business scene, colleges and outside entrepreneurs’ circles are also recommended. According to them, the convergence of people with the purpose of sharing business ideas affords upcoming entrepreneurs opportunity of understanding the trials and tribulations of building a business and choosing mentors whose philosophy align with theirs (entrepreneurs). The golden rule is that an entrepreneur must find a mentor for each area of expertise; technical expert, on customer acquisition and marketing, recruiting and team building, and in general operations and team management for the growth of his or her business.
Between entrepreneur and mentor
For the fact that mentors are expected to advice entrepreneurs without expecting any compensation in whatever form does not mean he or she should be taken for granted by the entrepreneurs. Strategic business analysts were of the opinion that entrepreneurs must take responsibility for the relationship. It is also necessary for the mentors to focus on the entrepreneur, x-raying his or her capabilities on the chosen business area. When in doubt on how to choose the right mentor who will nurture you and your business idea, it is advisable to consult business advisory professionals such as Enterprations who have the link to established mentors.