Mentoring and Entrepreneur Success

Mentoring and Entrepreneur Success

By Ray Villegas

When you research the statistics regarding the importance of mentoring to entrepreneurial success, you’ll consistently find the same conclusions…it’s not only important, but even more so essential. For example, a report conducted by Kabbage Inc. states, 92 percent of small businesses agree mentors have a direct impact on the growth and the survival of their business” and more surprisingly, “89 percent of small business owners that don’t have a mentor wish they did”.  So, it’s well established that having an impactful mentor is a key ingredient in the recipe for business success. But what exactly constitutes a mentorship relationship?  

The word ‘mentorship’ connotates different meanings to different people and is often used interchangeably with other terms such as ‘advising’ or ‘coaching’. And that is understandable as a true mentorship relationship many times encompasses and incorporates all those terms at one time or another. 

For example, in a business environment, a mentor may ‘coach’ their mentee on how to maximize their potential as a salesperson and work with them to hone those particular skills. Going further, they might also ‘advise’ them on how to land their desired customer or build a better company-wide sales process.  

The true mentoring relationship, however, goes deeper, wider, and farther to develop the Mentee on a more holistic and personal level. In the broadest scope, the Mentor is there to inspire the Mentee to do better than they know how, and to become a better version of themselves. The Mentor walks along with the Mentee for much or all of their journey – guiding them, challenging them, sparring with them at times, all to fully develop the Mentee as a stronger leader/CEO of their company. In Hollywood terms, think Yoda and Luke Skywalker (Star Wars), Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san (The Karate Kid), or Mickey the Trainer and Rocky Balboa (Rocky). 

Their relationships all went well beyond just how to use lightsabers, learn karate, or fight in the boxing ring, and transcended into their lives to develop them further as individuals.

Additionally, there are many well-known examples of these kinds of relationships in the business realm as well – Warren Buffett mentoring Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, Maya Angelou and Oprah, and Christian Dior and Yves Saint-Laurent just to name a few.

A UCF Incubator company owner recently mentioned to me that being a small business owner can be an extremely lonely endeavor…every day you are responsible to make short and long-term decisions for your company and your employees, and many times these decisions are based solely upon your viewpoint and judgment. That responsibility can certainly feel overwhelming at times. A true Mentor can help to ease that feeling of being alone and be a shoulder to lean on, providing you with a sounding board to vet your ideas and a trusted friend (and therapist!) to share and help you overcome your challenges.  

For additional reading on how to prepare yourself and best leverage the mentor/mentee relationship, see this helpful resource article from or “Five Reasons Why Every Business Owner Needs A Mentor” (Forbes).