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Entrepreneurs Need a Mentor, Too. Here’s Why.

Two entrepreneurs with dark hair sit together at a table with a laptop in front of them.

Photo source: Pexels

An entrepreneur mentor plays an integral role in growth. I knew I could achieve more if I was guided by those who blazed the trail before me, but two big things kept me from having mentors in my life: pride and fear. My mind circled with thoughts that always seemed to gum up the process: “I’ve looked for mentors, but I just haven’t found anyone right,” (pride), and “If I have a mentor, then who am I to them? A leech? A pest? A task?” (fear). 

Both limiting thoughts resulted from my lack of knowledge. Unfortunately, this kept the accelerating power of an entrepreneur mentor out of my life. When it came to my pride, I didn’t understand that a mentor didn’t have to be ahead of me in all areas of interest. I later realized that a mentor could be defined as someone that is at least one step ahead of you in at least one area of life.

I knew pride was holding me back when I began to think, “I’m so humble, I desire mentors in my life. I just haven’t found anyone smart enough yet.” Wow, what a contradiction!

As for my fear, I didn’t understand what a mutually beneficial entrepreneur mentor/protégé relationship could look like. I thought it was a one-sided arrangement, and feared the mentor would be helping me out more than I could help them. When I learned that a real mentorship is a mutually beneficial two-way street, I overcame this hurdle.

Opportunity for Mentorship is All Around if You Know Where to Look

After shining the light on my fear and pride, potential mentors popped up all around me. I also researched through networking and the internet for additional mentors. I was eager to find those that were “where I wanted to be” or “had what I wanted to have.” My first entrepreneur mentor was a speaker at a conference I attended, and I simply asked if I could buy him lunch. Once I found him, the next obstacle was learning how to create a formal mentor/protégé relationship.

Well, what sounded extremely difficult turned out to be easy as I put it into practice.

Entrepreneur Mentorship in Action

Being an entrepreneur mentor’s protégé can be summed up in one word: service. I leveraged the same skills I used in business to find out what my potential mentor’s needs, desires, goals or passions were. Then, I found ways to help. It was just a matter of using my creativity to fill a need or help him achieve a goal. I filled in at speaking engagements, served at his non-profit, advised when asked, connected him with people — whatever I could do to access his experience!

I was amazed at how easy it was to get one-on-one time just by adding value to his life. After I showed that I would bring value to his vision, I plainly asked, “Would you be willing to exchange your service as my mentor for my service as a protégé?” He agreed. I’ve been concentrating on serving, honoring, valuing and heeding what he brings into my life ever since.

Today, entrepreneur mentorship is now the single biggest catalyst in the growth of my business. As a result, my company has grown from 14% to 78% year after year! As the old saying goes, an intelligent man will learn from his mistakes, but a wise man from others.

Gain the support of fellow entrepreneurs who can share insight into their lived experiences. 

Clay Slaton is founder, owner and CEO of LIFEguide and an EO Tusla, Oklahoma member.

This article was originally published in 2015 at

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