It is a harsh reality that only half of all small businesses survive more than five years after launching and roughly 10% of percent of all employee-based firms close each year, according to the Small Business Administration.
However, there is growing evidence that connecting your business with a mentor can change this statistic. Research shows that businesses receiving three or more hours of mentoring achieve revenues and increased business growth.
According to a 2014 survey by The UPS Store, 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive more than five years, which is double the survival rate of non-mentored businesses. What’s more, 88% of business owners with a mentor say that having one is invaluable.
In fact, not having a mentor could actually be costing you money, says Travis Steffen, a serial entrepreneur with multiple successful exits and is currently the founder of UP (upshare.co). He is one of numerous founders and VCs sharing insight and advice with other entrepreneurs at MentorMojo—an entrepreneurial e-learning platform.
Here he offers seven reasons why small business owners need a mentor:
1. You have only your own mistakes to learn from. Sometimes mistakes are the most powerful learning tool you can have. But who says they always have to be your mistakes? Learning from mistakes your mentor has already made and bounced back from can provide a shortcut on your road to the right decision. Will their situations always be identical to the ones you’re facing? No, but they can allow you to make much more informed decisions.
2. People are more likely to ignore unsolicited inquiries. If you’re a relative newcomer who is very good at what you do, it may still take you years to break into your industry and partner with some of the more established heavy hitters. A cold call or email will often get tossed onto the pile. However, with an introduction provided by somebody whose name already holds water, you can get your foot in the door faster.
3. You are the sum of the people you associate with most. We’ve all heard this before – but while we toss it around to others, few of us truly embrace it ourselves. Having someone you strive to emulate as a mentor and working hard to spend time around them and people like them can bring you closer to becoming who you really want to be.
4. Your competitors will be quicker. Your competitors – whether they have mentors behind them or they’re simply more established – will be able to make things happen faster than you if you are starting up without advisors by your side.
5. You’ll waste time and money on tools and resources. There are tons of books, courses, resources and tools out there to teach you pretty much anything. And when you’re getting started, there’s not much to guide you aside from Amazon reviews, which can be misleading. Someone with a more educated perspective can point you in the right direction right away without you having to waste valuable time and money figuring out whom and what to listen to.
6. Opportunities will be smaller and slower. Key partnerships and introductions will be more difficult to secure, as will gaining the trust of key brands and influencers you may want to work with to accelerate growth. A mentor can put their own reputation on the line for you should they decide you’re worthy of it. Without a mentor you will have to create your own opportunities. This will prove to be a much longer, slower road.
7. You’ll often quit too early. You can gain insight about whether you should keep doing what you are doing or change your business model. Even if you’re stagnating in a certain area, growth and progress will often fail to become linear. Without a seasoned veteran telling you to stick with something despite recent events, you may give up on a project that would otherwise do exactly what you wanted it to in the long run if you just hang in there.
A version of this story appeared on the StartupCollective, a virtual mentorship program designed to help millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. It was launched by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs.