As an ambitious entrepreneur looking to take your startup to the next level, you might find yourself in situations wherein you feel rudderless while making time-sensitive decisions that have a major impact on business goals. While uncertainty is a part of new entrepreneurial ventures, you might be missing an essential ingredient for startup success - valuable mentorship.

Research statistics chronicling the importance of mentorship have revealed these whopping statistics: 70% of small startups who received mentorship were able to survive the first 5 years and prosper, and according to Forbes, 92% of entrepreneurs vouch that mentorship has had a direct impact on the growth and survival of their businesses. The intrinsic value of mentorship is grossly understated; mentors have already been where you are right now, seen, battled, and conquered it all. Even entrepreneurial exemplars, such as Zuckerberg, Jobs, and Larry Page, had mentors!

Here are some reasons why mentorship is absolutely crucial for running a successful startup, and taking a leap from competence to excellence:

1. You will gain valuable, real-world experience
No matter how many entrepreneurial books you’ve perused or TED talks you’ve watched, practical and hands-on business experiences are irreplaceable. Mentorship is a guaranteed method of gaining much-needed experience crucial for unbridled growth and success. As your core entrepreneurial skills are still a work in progress and a mentor holds expertise in the very skills you currently lack, you will be able to leverage upon his/her invaluable industry know-how and always have your hustle on.

2. You are more likely to succeed with a mentor
Good mentors are patient, honest, and action-oriented. They have the ability to grant nuanced, expert guidance while keeping your strengths and drawbacks in mind. The Stanford Business School published a survey, which brought to light that 80% of CEOs of established companies availed some form of mentorship during the incubation period, which proved to be instrumental to their success. When you keep in mind that a sizeable number of startups fail within the first few years, the necessity of mentorship becomes paramount.

3. You will be presented with rewarding networking opportunities
Established mentors have connections with a wide and invaluable network of individuals who can help your startup excel in unprecedented directions. As a mentor is immensely invested in the trajectory of your growth and triumphs, they will be more than willing to let you tap into their indispensable network when the need arises. Without a mentor, you will miss out on endless opportunities for connection and collaboration.

4. A mentor will help you develop emotional intelligence
Emotional Quotient (EQ) is crucial to entrepreneurial success - it has been proven by research that professionals with high EQ have better interpersonal, managerial, and leadership abilities, along with the qualities of adaptability, perseverance, and greater emotional maturity. Most businesses fail, owing to emotional, spur-of-the-moment decisions and the lack of assured guidance. This is where the role of a mentor comes in: when startups are shrouded in the clouds of uncertainty and lack the requisite skills to steer their business in the right direction, mentors provide clarity and motivation by acting as a guiding light and support system for startups that need it the most. Apart from helping hone your EQ, a mentor will also assist you in overcoming critical hurdles and executing quick, smart, and perceptive judgments.

5. A mentor will provide much-needed encouragement and reassurance
Quality mentorship entails providing startups with the confidence to persevere through tough times, along with the courage to recover from failures and grow from mistakes. As a mentor has years of experience in the entrepreneurial realm and has experienced both the zeniths and nadirs involved in running a business, they will be able to give you positive, pragmatic advice and reassurance when things do not unfold the way you had planned. Mentors support you through thick and thin, a vital asset for any startup that wishes to accelerate from GOOD to GREAT.

To reinforce why mentorship is crucial for startup success, apart from the above-mentioned reasons, one can look into an example posited by LinkedIn founder, Reid Hoffman, who uses the metaphor of assembling an aeroplane in order to soar high in the skies. You cannot assemble your flight to victory and freedom alone - you have to take the help of a mentor, who will gently guide you towards actualizing your vision.

Now, the decision rests with you. Will you opt for a truly valuable 360° mentorship programme or risk startup failure? No matter what you choose, may the odds be in your favour!