The Importance of Mentorship for Student Entrepreneurs and Their Success

Mentoring can provide invaluable insight, whether you’re an established business owner or starting one. Mentors can help you find your niche, grow your network, and stay motivated.

A growing body of research on the mentoring process significantly affects its outcomes. However, more work must focus on applying this to an entrepreneurial context.

Mentors Can Help You Build a Strong Foundation

Mentors help mentees develop the foundation to start and maintain their businesses. This includes helping them develop the skills they need, finding customers, and getting the funding they need. They can also help mentees stay motivated when they face challenges.

As a result, mentees may begin to think about their venture as ‘normal’ and ‘desirable’ (in terms of the subjective norms element of the TPB). Furthermore, the role model function of mentoring supports entrepreneurial intentions by showing that it is possible to become an entrepreneur through the mentor’s own experiences.

In addition, the ‘acquire knowledge’ function of mentoring supports entrepreneurship by increasing mentees’ perceptions of control over their venture and encouraging nascent planning behaviors to advance their experiences forward. Mentees also acquire specialist entrepreneurial knowledge related to their business idea (cf. product, market, and financial expertise). Mentees also develop emotional resilience by associating with entrepreneurs who have successfully overcome setbacks, such as failing to secure a venue for their events company or not receiving any customers in their first month of operation.

They Can Help You Develop Skills

Developing a relationship with your mentor like Larry Gaynor is a great way to learn more about the industry and get feedback on your ideas. They can also teach you a lot about approaching different situations and problems.

For instance, if you are a student interested in starting a business, they can share their experiences and help you develop an action plan for your own company. They can also provide valuable insights into the different aspects of entrepreneurship, such as finance, marketing, and sales.

Furthermore, mentees who receive mentoring often develop entrepreneurial knowledge and skills. For example, a mentee named Hale received information from her mentor on networking with stakeholders such as potential customers and licensors in the events sector. This helped him to gain a competitive advantage in his new business. This supports the notion that mentoring can serve a ‘push’ function and facilitate nascent behavior.

They Can Help You Stay Motivated

Having an expert mentor to provide guidance and support can help you stay motivated. This can be especially important during difficult times when your business is growing slower than you would like. Mentors can also provide a fresh perspective on your business and help you see new possibilities for the future.

A recent study found that students with mentors who were entrepreneurs were likelier to start businesses than those without a business background. This was true even among students from entrepreneurial families with high optimism and risk tolerance.

Remember that your mentors are busy, and you should respect their time and commitments. Ensure you follow up after meetings and show appreciation for their advice. This will help keep the relationship positive and productive.

They Can Help You Make Better Decisions

Mentoring programs can help you find mentees and mentors with different strengths, interests, backgrounds, and experiences. That means your mentee is unlikely to progress at the same rate as you did, but that’s no reason not to have an open mind and be prepared to adjust your expectations when needed.

In the EYU context, mentors also facilitate mentees’ acquisition of entrepreneurial knowledge about the start-up process, particularly the greater perceived feasibility of their start-up venture. Role modeling by the mentor helps mentees visualize the start-up journey and evoke the notion that if the mentor can do it, so can they.

Regarding nascent planning behavior, mentoring influences actual entrepreneurship activity, such as progressing business plans and applying pricing knowledge, for example, through the mentor’s ‘push’ to action or encouraging mentees to follow up on leads with critical stakeholders in their field. This is consistent with other research in the higher education sector.

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