“What’s long, brown, and sticky?” If your dad is particularly inclined to tell dad jokes, you have probably heard this one before. The answer, of course? “A stick.” [Slow clap]  

Dads can lend a special light to our lives, not least of which is bad humor. On the other hand, they are also sources of immense wisdom if we can tap into that wisdom. They’ve experienced so much more than we have! We can observe the same phenomenon when it comes to older, wiser mentors in the business. Some entrepreneurs are lucky enough to count their father as their mentor because the business runs in the family, but other entrepreneurs can lean on those with more experience to give them so-called “fatherly advice.”  

One of our core goals at 3 Steps to StartUp is to connect people. We value mentorships and networking as one vital factor when it comes to a business’s operations and survival. In this blog, we’ll talk about mentors and how their “fatherly advice” can make the difference your business needs to be a success.  

Business mistakes can be costly!  

Scientific American published a 2019 article claiming that failure isn’t only a risk when starting a small business, it is a prerequisite. Dashun Wang, Associate Professor of Business Management at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management puts it succinctly: “every winner begins as a loser.” According to a study cited in the article, startups endured 1.5 failures before finding success.  

Entrepreneurs pursuing small business startups in some cases cannot afford to fail. Many of them sink enormous portions of their personal savings pursuing a business idea, so in the event of failure, they’ve lost a significant investment. 39% of entrepreneurs use cash to start their small businesses. Finding investors and financing can help alleviate personal risk but regardless, making mistakes costs money in the business world.  

Mentor to the rescue! Just like a dad, waiting in the wings to offer his sage advice, an experienced mentor can point out any risks you may not see in a particular situation and offer solutions you may not have considered. With the benefit of experience-driven guidance, you don’t have to worry about making the same mistakes your mentor may have made when they were first starting their business. You get to skip over the trial and error and land on solid footing on your way to success

You need to hear constructive criticism and well-deserved compliments from someone who would know. 

Dads are known for handing out harsh truths, but with love. They don’t hold back. As an entrepreneur, you need to be surrounded by realistic expectations, and those come from people in the industry who have had the experience to teach them those truths. Many entrepreneurs feel the support of their peers and families, but that unwavering support may expose an entrepreneur to risks they might be warned against by a mentor.  

At the same time, receiving criticism from someone who has the requisite experience can be constructive. If the criticism (even if accurate) comes from a source with less experience, it is distracting and less meaningful – and more likely to go ignored. When your dad criticizes your choices, you may have a few choice words for him, even if you respect his opinion. However, receiving criticism from a trusted mentor is a different experience. There are some ways to receive it gracefully – namely, do not take it personally. Your mentor is trying to support you, so ask questions and follow up later on your progress.  

Access to Well-Curated Networks 

Connections with the right people are invaluable, and mentors, like dads, have been forging connections for a while. Networking provides entrepreneurs with access to supply chains, investment, financing, distribution networks, education, and more! The beauty of a curated network is that once you are connected to one member, you have extended access to their connections and so on.  

Further perks of connecting to a vast network through a mentor include the possibility that you find business peers that you can commiserate with. You may even connect with other mentors that can offer you guidance in other aspects of your business.  

Not every entrepreneur has a mentor, but they should. Help is out there. The key to finding an experienced entrepreneur to offer you sage advice when needed is looking in the right places! 3 Steps to StartUp exists in part to lend expert advice to new entrepreneurs trying to start a business. We’re invested in West Virginia’s small business future, and that means we are invested in you. Our venture fairs are where entrepreneurs, both seasoned and brand new, can connect and forge mentor-mentee relationships or even simply bounce ideas around. You can watch recaps of our past venture fairs to “borrow” a mentor for general small business advice. Reach out to us when you are ready to forge relationships with some seasoned entrepreneurs that might have some “fatherly advice” for you as you work to launch your small business.

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