What Every Student Entrepreneur Needs to Know to Succeed (5) Finding a Mentor
This is part of my new Series on Student Entrepreneurship
In the previous posts in this Series we established the mindset and awareness required, the immersion you need to inititate in your local startup ecosystem, what you need to do to acquire subject matter expertise, how to develop a social media presence, all with the objective of greatly increasing your chances of success as an entrepreneur.
Next on the menu is understanding the importance of mentorship. Take a second to remember what is was like when you first started trying to learn a new language, sport or skill. It was probably somewhat daunting and uncomfortable at first. Perhaps you found a great coach to quickly help you get the hang of things that gave you real-world insights that you never would have found in a book. I suggest you look at learning entrepreneurship in the same exact way. It's really not something one "just does" and hopes to be good at. You need experienced people to help guide you so you can avoid major pitfalls. The sooner you accept this reality, the better. Having an ego about this is a mistake. Don't confuse being intelligent with actually knowing anything- it's a huge problem that's rampant in our society.
The good news is that most colleges and universities are being swept up in the tidal wave of university entrepreneurship I predicted three years ago! Whether the school's administration is genuinely interested in helping student entrepreneurs succeed or just "trying to keep up with the Jones' (and the Stanford's for that matter)", doesn't matter much, because they're all falling over themselves to find entrepreneurs-in-residence and start mentorship programs to point their students to. I strongly urge you to take advantage of these resources and to receive some ongoing advice and mentorship.
Also, as you immerse yourself in the local startup community, keep your eyes open for experienced and successful people who might be inclined to help you. Perhaps they went to the same college as you did or simply love what you are trying to create. When you find such a person, get to know them and take your time- don't clumsily ask them to mentor you on your first or second meeting. Let it happen organically. Usually the conversations will just head in the direction of advice and mentorship- all you need to do is roll with it at that point!
In a nutshell, finding a solid mentor can dramatically increase the chances of you succeeding, so get out there and see what you can do about it! Here's some additional posts I've written in my Series on Mentorship that you may also find to be helpful.
Best of Luck!
(If you're currently reading my Series on Mentorship, click here for the next post)