Most startups fail. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest reasons for that is lack of experience. As a first-time founder, it’s inevitable that you’ll make easily avoidable mistakes. This could lead to a lot of wasted time, effort, and capital. And in most cases, an early-stage startup doesn’t have the spare capacity to survive such inefficiencies.
Experience makes a big difference – 60-year-old entrepreneurs are 3 times more likely to build a successful startup than 30-year-old founders. Moreover, founders with at least one previous entrepreneurial success have a 50% higher chance to succeed in a new venture compared to first-time founders (30% success rate compared to 18% success rate).
While it is possible to educate yourself by reading books and articles on the subject, it is not a fail-proof method for avoiding startup mistakes. Most of your problems are case-specific and if you lack the experience it would be hard to apply practically the general lessons you’ve gathered by consuming content.
This is why getting advice specially tailored to your specific problem from a person with practical experience in taking projects from zero to one is invaluable.
According to a survey by the UPS store, 70% of small business owners that receive mentoring survive for five years or more. This is double the survival rate of founders who don’t receive mentoring.
So, here are a few reasons why mentors can add a lot of value to your project:
First and foremost, an experienced mentor is well-versed in the basic principles of startups. While as a first-time founder you might not be an expert in thinking lean and validating empirically your ideas, these are basic concepts for startup veterans. A good mentor would save a lot of your time by pointing you in the right direction from the very beginning of 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 likely not as developed. This might make it difficult to reach potential employees, partners, investors, or even clients, which would slow down 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.
Getting in touch with the right people is only half the battle. After you reach them, you need to convince them of the potential of what you are doing and your chances of success.
This is very hard to do on your own, as your lack of experience makes your opinion less credible.
Fortunately, the support of a person with a strong reputation can solve this problem.
4. Emotional Support
The experience of the mentor is useful not only for rational guidance but also for emotional support. Unlike most people in your life, an experienced founder would know how hard it can be to take a project from zero to one. When the going gets tough it becomes invaluable to have a person that understands you and supports you along the way and even pushes you forward when necessary.
“Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson