A vital intangible component of a successful startup is a mentor to guide you through the first pitfalls in your business. Here's why a mentor is important to your success:
Helps you eliminate mistakes
There are only two ways you learn anything in life period: your own mistakes, or someone else's. Learning from someone else's however is much smarter and saves you a lot of time, energy, money, sweat, tears, etc. A wise man once said that wisdom is knowledge gained from someone else's mistakes. It is vital you embrace this fact and look for someone you can have as a mentor when you get started in business. It would be ideal to have someone who is in your field or industry, but as long as they are someone who has proven that they have sufficient knowledge on what it takes to be successful in business they will be an invaluable asset to you as you make your way through the murky waters of business ownership.
Gives you an outlet for negative feelings
One of the most important things for you to monitor when you start a business is your attitude. Your attitude can be swayed very easily by external factors if you do not have an outlet for negative energy so it is vital you have someone that you can release the stress and negative energy from the daily grind to. Most executives of companies tend to take out all their stress on the people closest to them, usually their family. Having a mentor not only gives you on outlet for this stress, but most times also a solution to some of the challenges that you are facing. The second worst place to pass negative is to your employees. This will ruin the morale of your team and also leave them feeling very fickle about where the company is going. No matter how bad things get you must maintain a positive outlook so your people can feel motivated to perform at their best knowing that everything is okay.
Has a vested interest in your success
There's a famous saying that opinions are like belly buttons; everyone has one. The challenge with asking for advice is that everyone is always ready to bestow their vast knowledge to you if you're willing to listen. A mentor's advice however is priceless, especially when they have a vested interest in your success. Be careful not to fall into the trap of asking people you are "close" with, or colleagues, or even family for advice on business. If you want to learn how to play football you don't talk to your grandmother, not matter how much you love her. If you want to learn how to play Golf if you had the opportunity you would learn from Tiger Woods. Or even better, Tiger Wood's coach. That's what a mentor gives you: experience in your industry but also a vested interest in your success.