Mentoring Programs

The Importance of Having a Mentor

Written by Chukwuma Asala for Gaebler Ventures

If you examine any successful person they typically have one thing in common: a mentor. Nearly every successful person in history had someone who they could confide in and learn from when times were tough. This article will highlight the importance of having a mentor in business and entrepreneurship.

To be successful in life it is very important to have a mentor, a coach, someone with more experience than you, someone who is in a position in life that you desire to be in the future.

Most people underestimate the value of a mentor and this is the biggest reasons for failure in business. A mentor offers valuable insight to things that only experience can teach as well as a host of other things. They have fruit on their tree which shows they have paid the price to be in a position to offer wisdom to you if you need it.

The following points will put into perspective the importance of having a good mentor and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have someone in your corner that is knowledgeable about your enterprise or business. And believe you, if you don't have one yet you better find one before you need one.


A mentor will encourage you when you are feeling low. The word encouragement literally means "to give courage", and a good mentor will provide just that. This does not mean that other people cannot offer you encouragement but when it is coming from someone who knows and understands your business inside out it means a lot more. A good mentor will motivate you with a simple statement that affirms you are on the right track even when things do not seem to be going well. They have the ability to reassure you that everything is going as it should be because they have been there before.

Reduce mistakes

A mentor will help you prevent mistakes that you otherwise would have no way of avoiding. There are only two ways to gain wisdom in life: making your own mistakes, or learning from others mistakes. If you're thinking about walking through a minefield, you probably won't follow the path where there's an empty set of boots lying on the ground. A mentor has already made all the mistakes for you so you don't have to do it all over again. So in other words experience is the best teacher IF it's not your own experience. Failure is only possible if you decide to figure out everything on your own. Here is the problem: you don't have enough time to make all the mistakes you need to make to be successful.

Eliminate weaknesses

A mentor will help you remove your weaknesses. This is usually the tougher aspect of a mentoring relationship because it involves pruning off some of the things holding you back in business. If you have a good mentor understand that you are not always going to like them. Their primary role is to be your mentor and their secondary role is to be your friend. Your best friends see you as you are, your mentor see you for who you can be.

Your friends will tolerate your weaknesses, but your mentor will remove them entirely. Your friends are comfortable with your past, but your mentor is more comfortable with your future. A good mentor will stretch you just by being in your presence because they know and understand you better than you understand yourself.

Bring out your strengths

Remember that Tiger Woods had a coach. Most people if asked if they had the option of being coached in golf by Tiger Woods or by Tiger's coach which person they would choose almost unanimously say they would choose Tiger Woods. The truth however is that it takes a certain type of person to bring out talent and ability undeveloped in people. Talent cannot be taught which is why coaches are more valuable than players. Without good coaches, talent would be useless. A good mentor will help bring out the best in you when you don't necessarily see the qualities you possess.


A mentor will tell you the truth because their primary objective is to make sure you are successful. Your friends will always tell you what you want to hear, but a mentor will tell you what you need to hear. This is not always easy to do because of ego issues especially in men. But a good mentor understands that a day of tension is better than a lifetime of regret and as such will always tell you the truth rather than let you believe you have arrived at your destination.

Chukwuma Asala is an international student from Nigeria who is studying to earn an MBA from the State University of New York in Albany. He has analyzed more than 20 industry case studies throughout his education thus far, and hopes to bring some of his business knowledge to

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What's your perspective on having a mentor? We welcome all comments, questions and suggestions.

  • Gerhard (Garret) Brummer posted on 1/11/2011
    Gerhard (Garret) Brummer
    Thank you for the valuable article, Asala. I couldn't agree with you more about the importance of having a mentor. I've always had one and always will. Best of luck with your MBA studies at the State University of New York in Albany.

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