Finding the right mentor can mean the difference between success and failure in your business.

A good mentor acts as a sounding board for your ideas and concerns, holds you accountable for your commitments and provides you with encouragement and wise advice when you need it.

What is a business mentor?

A mentor is someone who has the priceless experience that you don’t have yet; who has made all the necessary mistakes on the road to success, learned from them, and is willing to pass on those lessons to you.

A mentor doesn’t just have a good grasp of the specific knowledge you need to succeed, like how to create better Facebook ads or how to bring a product to market. They also possess an intuition developed over the course of many years doing what you hope to do, and their knowledge can help you confirm, abandon, or shape some of your own business instincts.

Finding the right mentor can mean the difference between success and failure in your business.

The Mentoring Relationship-Benefits to mentees

  • Gaining invaluable knowledge and insights from your mentor’s expertise
  • Receiving critical feedback in key areas, such as communications, interpersonal relationships, and technical abilities, so you can improve
  • Developing a sharper focus on what you need to grow professionally
  • Learning specific skills that are relevant to professional and personal goals
  • Networking with a more influential employee who can broaden your reach within the organization

Your mentor isn’t there to solve your problems. Instead, he or she should help you to think through your challenges and find your own answers. That’s how you learn to be a better entrepreneur. A mentor’s role in encouraging you and building your confidence is crucial. You’re looking for someone who will be in your corner and give you support and advice when you need it. You’re not looking for a boss.

A good mentor can help you avoid common mistakes early on, solve troublesome problems, and offer up valuable connections, secure funding, and provide advice while helping you realize your full potential.

Mentorship occurs naturally in nearly every field. But in the world of business, especially, you’d be hard-pressed to find a success story that didn’t involve a mentor or three along the way:

  • Warren Buffett credits Benjamin Graham with helping to shape him into a savvy investor.
  • Richard Branson says his uncle Jim taught him how to harness his eccentricity into entrepreneurial endeavors.
  • Oprah Winfrey recognizes the influence that poet Maya Angelou had on her, not just through her writing, but as a friend and mentor.

In fact, according to a survey of over 180 business owners conducted by UPS, 70% of the entrepreneurs that underwent mentoring had businesses that survived for five or more years. That’s double the rate of businesses that didn’t have the advantage of a mentor. According to data compiled by the National Mentoring Day organization, 55% of businesses also feel that mentoring has a positive impact on their profits.