Most startups fail. Undoubtedly, one of the main reasons for this is lack of experience. As a first-time founder, it’s inevitable that you’ll make some easily avoidable mistakes. This could result in a lot of wasted time, effort and capital. And in most cases, a fledgling startup doesn’t have the spare capacity to survive such inefficiencies.
Experience makes a big difference – 60-year-old entrepreneurs are 3x more likely to build a successful startup than 30-year-old founders. Additionally, founders with at least one prior entrepreneurial success are 50% more likely to be successful in a new venture than new founders (30% success rate vs. 18%).
While it is possible to learn by reading books and articles on the subject, it is not a foolproof method to avoid startup errors. Most of your issues are case-specific, and if you lack experience, it would be difficult to practically apply the general lessons you’ve gathered from consuming content.
That’s why getting advice tailored specifically to your specific problem from someone with hands-on experience doing zero-to-one projects is invaluable.
According to a survey by The UPS Store, 70% of small business owners who receive mentoring survive for five years or more. That’s double the survival rate of founders who don’t receive mentorship.
So here are some reasons why mentors can add a lot of value to your project:
Above all, an experienced mentor is well versed in the basics of startups. Although as a first-time founder you may not be an expert in lean thinking and empirically validating your ideas, these are core concepts for startup veterans. A good mentor would save you a lot of time by pointing you in the right direction early on in your startup journey.
2. Access to a professional network
While what you know is vital, who you know is just as important. As a newcomer to the field, your professional network is probably not as developed. This could make it difficult to reach employees, partners, investors, or even potential customers, which would slow your growth.
A well-connected mentor can solve this problem for you and introduce you to people who can add a lot of value to your project.
Connecting with the right people is only half the battle. After joining them, you need to convince them of the potential of what you are doing and your chances of success.
This is very difficult to do alone, because your lack of experience makes your opinion less credible.
Fortunately, the support of someone with a solid reputation can solve this problem.
4. Emotional support
The mentor’s experience is useful not only for rational orientation but also for emotional support. Unlike most people in your life, an experienced founder knows how difficult it can be to get a project from zero to one. When the going gets tough, it becomes invaluable to have someone who understands you and supports you along the way and even pushes you forward if necessary.
“Our main desire in life is someone who will make us do what we can.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson