We often hear about success stories that begin with some type of mentorship. Whether it be through a formal program or casual guidance from someone more experienced, thriving entrepreneurs usually can point to someone who coached and encouraged them along the way. Long story short, it ultimately contributed to their success.
For small business owners, a strong mentor relationship is an undeniable necessity. Choosing to venture into entrepreneurship is rewarding, but it comes with handfuls of challenges that only another entrepreneur can understand. For many, having the support system could be the difference between giving up too early and finding a way to flourish. Some of the most widely known benefits of enlisting a mentor include:
- Gaining better understanding of your industry
- Growing your professional network
- Receiving candid and constructive advice
As entrepreneurs – especially those of us who have been doing it for years – it is important that we collaborate with others to share our successes and challenges, and one great way to do that is making yourself available as a mentor. In Arizona, where the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, the new generation of entrepreneurs is passionate and eager to grow. These individuals will benefit from hearing what worked for you, what didn’t, how you survived hard times, your advice and support.
Participating in a mentorship program should not be viewed as only a pay-it-forward move toward the younger generation. Many mentors are surprised that they take away several lessons from the relationship that can be applied to their company. For example, if a mentee is fresh out of college, he or she may be able to provide valuable insight into what they’ve learned in school, providing a casual way for the mentor to sharpen his or her skills.
Recognizing the career-boosting value that a mentorship can provide, EO Arizona recently launched a mentorship program that pairs its members – Valley entrepreneurs with businesses generating more than $1 million a year – with Arizona State University and Thunderbird School of Global Management. The first-of-its-kind program here in the Valley provides student entrepreneurs with networking, mentorship, experience sharing, thought leadership, internship, joint events and classroom presentations.
Most importantly, the mentor-mentee relationship ensures entrepreneurs have a trusted network, which I believe is essential to success. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely path, and it is important to find other similar entrepreneurs like the ones I have found through EO Arizona.
Paul Dembow is an entrepreneur and school mentorship chair for Entrepreneurs’ Organization Arizona, a dynamic group of 140 of Arizona’s most successful entrepreneurs. To learn more about EO Arizona and its mentorship program, visit www.eoaz.org.