From Richard Branson to Mark Zuckerberg, great entrepreneurs have long talked about the benefits of mentors. In fact, 93 percent of startup leaders say that mentorship is instrumental to success.[1]Winners of Get Started, a series of high-paced pitch competitions created by Cox Business, reveal the 10 best pieces of advice mentors have given them over the years:

“A mentor told me to not worry about ‘things,’ explaining that stressing out over an issue will never help and more often it just wastes time and effort over concerns that are unlikely to ever happen. As a result of that conversation, I move ahead when I’m 80% happy with a decision, and then change my plan over time based on feedback.”

- Chad Zani, winner of Get Started Orange County 2016 for Envi, an eco-friendly car wash that uses a biodegradable paste made of ingredients found in make-up.

“Potential investors wanted me to put my house up for collateral on loans to prove my desire to go ‘all in’ on his business. A mentor explained that though I may be tempted to do this, the lack of financial security can create a desperate environment in which the entrepreneur can make costly, desperate mistakes.”

- Jonathan Preedom, winner of Get Started Roanoke 2016 for “Game Tracker,” a tracking device that syncs with a hunter’s cell phone so he can accurately and humanely follow and recover game.

“My start-up and company is personal to me. I have literally lost sleep, cried, gotten in fights with my husband over it. I practically bare my soul when pitching to investors. So when they say no, it hurts. It stings. Mentors taught me not to take things so personally.”

- Krystal Stubbendeck, winner of Get Started Omaha 2016 for Borrow Your Bump, an e-commerce platform that allows expecting mothers to borrow maternity and nursing attire during pregnancy and in the months thereafter.

I have always leaned heavily on mentors, coaches, and entrepreneur groups. The best advice was that everything can and should be made into a process. I now have a process for everything from how to handle a client request to balancing a happy client versus budget creep.”

- Torrey Tayenaka, winner of Get Started Orange County 2015 for Eva, a smart shower system.

“When I started, other local entrepreneurs became my mentors, such as helping me develop my Facebook marketing plan. The best advice they gave me was to outsource accounting, legal, HR and other professional services, so I could focus on what I do best.”

- Emily Gaddis, winner of Get Started New Orleans 2016 for Gator and Crane, which promotes healthy diets, reduced waste, and local food procurement through its buying club.

“Once you start getting recognized by potential customers you’ll find that everyone wants in on your idea. Be cautious and protect your idea with patents and trademarks. Competition is fierce and it is critical to understand your competition and identify areas that you should protect.”

- James Lawrence, winner of Get Started Tucson 2015 for an advance software system that ensures drone operators stay in compliance with the ever-changing rules and regulations.

“My online show, Cook Time with Remmi, actually came out of an idea by my older brother. He suggested that we do online cooking videos because it would be fun. Now, I am a teen mentor for Thrive15, and it’s extremely gratifying job to share my own experiences and pass them on to entrepreneurs who may be going through the same thing.”

- Teenage chef Remmi Smith, winner of Get Started Tulsa 2015 for her C.H.E.F (Cook Healthy Exercise Frequently) Program

“It’s easy to stay with the same group you’ve always run with and be the fastest of that group. But if you want to run the marathon race called success, run with the fastest runners around - who are on the field everyday practicing to get better. You will no longer come in first and might come in last, but your time will be better because you’re running with a faster group.”

- Siloh Moses, winner of Get Started Las Vegas 2016 for Fork&Spoon, a pop-up restaurant which provides a plate of food to the homeless for each plate purchased by a customer

“Get feedback from people outside your field, because they can bring insights to the business side that those in your industry wouldn’t think of.”

- Jen Koevary, winner of Get Started Tucson 2016 for MyCardia, “a beating heart graft” which can be implanted on the surface of the heart and regenerate the damage tissue.

My mentor, Nathan Preheim who runs the Startup Collaborative, a business accelerator in Omaha, gave me some ironic advice: ‘Ignore all advice from mentors. Just listen to your customers.’ And he’s right. We’ve received great advice and feedback from customers. The people that are actually paying the bills have shaped our product into what it has become.”

- Eric Burns, winner of Get Started Omaha 2015; his new startup, GazellaWifi.com, provides wifi-marketing solution to restaurants worldwide.

  

[1] http://www.sage.com/company/businessnavigators/research