Starting and running a business can be daunting. In the beginning, you have no idea what your blind spots are or what kind of hurdles are around the corner.
Spending the past 14 years as an entrepreneur has taught me the importance of learning fast, and surrounding yourself with those further ahead. Without mentorship, I would not be where I am, nor would I be known as the Millennial Mentor.
After I sold Elite Daily in 2015, I didn't have all the answers I needed to help me with my current venture, Fownders. One of the best ways to acquire the wisdom needed to succeed comes from seeking out mentorship. This is someone who has walked in your shoes and can help you navigate the journey ahead.
Dating and mentorship have a lot in common. Lots of people think that the good ones are taken, they're out of your league or you're self-conscious about how to approach it. Odds are you're overthinking it. Just get out there and start meeting people.
Go to the right places like industry meet ups or events where these successful people are likely to attend. Ask for introductions. Don't be shy. These small steps have huge payoffs for your future and make the importance of mentorship a no-brainer.
Here are five lessons to make the journey easier:
1. You control your future by your present actions.
The entrepreneur life is not for the faint of heart. It's lonely, it's hard, but it is a tremendous opportunity and the ride of a lifetime.
My first mentor, my father, instilled in me from a young age that "hard work comes before the dream." This is a quote I still live by today. This lesson helps me remember that how much I want to have the good life, it will always be true that hard work comes before the dream.
Entrepreneurship is for those who know not just what they want but they know themselves. Have the grit to keep grinding, especially when it gets tough. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so create the disciplines and prioritize the foundational building blocks now.
2. You don't have to personally know your mentors.
Explore your options. Read. Listen to podcasts. Study leaders and politicians. Find what inspires you. Dig deeper.
Mentoring is also a self-study that you can control. Be open to people on your everyday path. Not having a specific person right now is not a reason to not start your mentoring journey.
Connect with new people every day. Seek to add value to others first before asking for anything in return. Down the road it will surprise you what doors will open from building these relationships.
3. You need to stay humble.
When working with mentors you will be encouraged, you will be guided and they will tell you hard truths with tough love. Seeing oneself clearly and coming face to face with your faults and weaknesses takes a level of courage most people never attain. When you can humble yourself to this, you will be able to rise higher than others.
4. You must be willing to think differently.
A mentor is someone who has deeper understanding than you. I remember early in my career when one of my mentors taught me an invaluable lesson.
He always taught me "never be an expert of any one thing; be an expert of experts." If you do this, you will develop network of experts in all types of fields.
This diverse network will be one of your greatest assets. You will be able to build teams and surround yourself with people that can help guide you, especially if you're a visionary.
5. You can put zero down for a 1,000 percent return.
Mentorship is the only investment with a true no money down, guaranteed return. You've gotta put in the legwork and hustle.
I guarantee that five years down the road, you'll thank yourself for putting in the upfront investment. So what are you waiting for?
The most successful entrepreneurs are life-long learners. They read like crazy and take every opportunity to find gems from others.
Leadership expert Robin Sharma said it well: "Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you." What are you going to do today to find a mentor, and make this investment in yourself?