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Start-up Advice

The Most Powerful Advice Entrepreneurs Ignore

Follow these six steps to dropping your ego and finding the right mentor.

Graham Young

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Study any successful entrepreneur and nearly every single one will point to a mentor as the key ingredient to their success.

Getting a mentor is arguably the most powerful piece of advice any budding entrepreneur can receive when embarking on a career in business. Research the wealthiest people in world and you’ll discover that they all had mentors.

Warren Buffett’s mentor was Benjamin Graham. Bill Gates early mentor was his father, then later Warren Buffett. Mark Zuckerburg’s mentor was Steve Jobs. However, if having a mentor is the most important step an entrepreneur can take, then why do so many ignore this advice?

Why ‘get a mentor’ advice goes unheeded

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Richard Branson, who’s a huge advocate of mentorship once said, “Understandably there’s a lot of ego, nervous energy and parental pride involved, especially with one- or two-person start-ups…

Going it alone is an admirable, but foolhardy and highly flawed approach to taking on the world.” Branson’s assertion was that ego and pride prevents entrepreneurs from reaching out for help.

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

One of the deepest negative beliefs we all have as humans is feeling that we aren’t enough. In the back of your mind you’ve likely questioned whether you are good enough, smart enough, funny enough, attractive enough, successful enough, patient enough etc. to get the things you truly want in life. This belief of not being enough, is so common because it is also linked to our deepest fears.

Our brain knows that when we don’t meet expectations, it often leads to failure at work, rejection in relationships and the feeling of guilt from letting others down.

This is why asking for help can be so hard, because it ultimately is proving this detrimental belief correct.

Seeking mentorship can seem counterintuitive for an entrepreneur. Whether you’re working on your own as a consultant, the founder of a start-up or the CEO of an established company, why would you want to expose your weaknesses? What would happen to your reputation if other people found out where you lacked? What would investors, customers and competitors think?

We often avoid looking for a mentor or seeking help because of our ego. We’re concerned that if we ask for help we’re going to be perceived as weak, like we lack knowledge, experience and the ability to make things happen on our own.

Finding the right mentor

Once your ego, pride and fears are set aside, you can embark on finding the right mentor. But the ideal mentor may not be easy to find. Phil Pustejovsky was in that position 15 years ago.

Phil’s story provides a wonderful case study with many lessons on how you can find the right mentor. His real estate investing start-up was failing and he was so humbled by the experience that he was open to seeking help.

Not knowing any successful business people, being in a small niche of the greater real estate space and having no real connections in an estranged city, Phil had no idea how to find the right mentor.

However through his daily interactions, Phil ran into a successful out-of-state real estate investor that just happened to be in town for a few weeks who was looking to duplicate himself.

Now that Phil was consciously aware of his need for a mentor, he recognised the opportunity. From these experiences Phil now believes that when the student is ready, the teacher arrives.

The arrangement was that Phil would split 50/50 the profits from his next $500,000 with new mentor. Through the tutelage of his mentor, Phil became an extraordinarily successful real estate investor and eventually created the iconic organisation, Freedom Mentor, a company that mentors real estate investors on creative real estate investing.

Related: 8 Secrets Your Business Mentor Won’t Tell You

That’s great news if you’re a budding real estate entrepreneur, but what about everyone else? Here’s some ideas on finding a mentor for yourself.

1Understand your ego

ego

No one likes asking for help. You can blame a deep rooted belief system called your ego for this. It ultimately tells us what needs to happen in our lives in order for us to feel good. It makes us believe that in order to feel confident we need to be self-reliant and competent, and that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. Over time this way of thinking has created a habit that avoids looking for external help.

2Eliminate your ego

To be successful it’s important to feel confident in your vulnerability. To alter any habit, consistency is critical. Start small by reaching out to friends and people close to you for advice.

Literally write this down as a daily or weekly goal. As you get more comfortable with feeling vulnerable and verbalising what you need, you will be preparing yourself to expand beyond your immediate circle. In business, this practice will help you tap into your emotions and enable you to connect with your customers on a deeper level as well.

3Determine the value you bring first

We often perceive mentorship as a one-way street, where the mentor is always guiding the mentee. The reality is that those roles can be reversed depending on what each person needs help with. So before asking for help, determine what value you can provide others in return first. What do you specialise in? What are you most skilled at that could benefit others?

4Online search

You may be able to find a first class mentor in your niche, like Phil Pustejovsky, by simply conducting an online search. However, it’s quite rare to find a mentor type company in most business niches. To discover a particular individual in your field, LinkedIn is a great resource to research and connect.

Remember that when you reach out to someone, you’re not asking them to be your mentor immediately. You’re simply looking for some guidance and advice from a seasoned professional. After that initial connection is made, you can follow the tips in the next step to take your relationship to the next level.

Related: 5 Business Lessons From Billionaire Mentors

5
Daily interactions

Through daily interactions in your business, you may run into an ideal candidate who is open to sharing their wisdom. When reaching out to these people focus on creating a connection first and foremost.

Then in your initial meeting make sure you are honest about where you need help, and at the end ask if it is ok for you to reach out to them in the future for assistance. When you reconnect with them weeks or months down the road, this is where that mentorship relationship can begin to be established.

6Hero reach

Think of the heroes in your niche. Although they may be hard to get a hold of, reach out to them. If you knock loud enough and long enough, you’ll eventually wake someone up. Successful entrepreneurs will appreciate your ambition and determination to learn.

As you probably already knew, having the right mentor is one of the most powerful pieces of advice anyone can give you in business. However, ego, pride and fear can prevent someone from heeding that life transforming tip. Therefore, humble yourself and when the student is ready, the teacher will arrive.

Finding the right mentor may vary in difficulty depending on your niche so choose wisely, because the wrong mentor could lead down a frustrating path. With the right mentor though, you will achieve far more than you ever dreamed possible.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Graham Young is a performance strategist who simplifies the science behind human achievement. He works with leaders of companies and business professionals to shift human behavior by breaking through personal obstacles, enhancing emotional intelligence and creating strategies that lead to extraordinary performance. He is the vice chairman of an investment holding company, a former Microsoft consultant and former personal trainer to corporate executives. Connect with him at GYstrategies.com.

Company Posts

Register A Company In South Africa

With over 120 Start-up Services, Company Partners is the perfect Partner for Company, Tender and Contract compliance.

Company Partners

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Company Partners is the leading Company Registration Service Provider in South Africa, offering a One-Stop-Shop for all the Company Registration and Tender Compliance Documents.

With over 120 Start-up Services, Company Partners is the perfect Partner for Company, Tender and Contract compliance.

Established in 2006, Company Partners guarantees that the services they offer meet the standards of the best in the industry. Over 30 full-time Consultants offer services and standards of the highest quality.

Company Registration Benefits

Your Company Structure is the first consideration you need to make when you want to register a new Company at the CIPC. The preferred choice of a legal entity for most Businesses is a Pty Company.

Related: Business Model Design – Picking The Business Model That Works For You

Here’s why:

  1. You protect your personal life and assets from your business when you register a company. If one runs a business, it is necessary to operate in a safe legal structure where your business assets and risks are separated from your personal ones.
  2. You look more professional when you operate under a registered company name. If you want to obtain a large contract or a tender, it appears more professional to trade in a Pty Company capacity than in your own name.
  3. Most Suppliers and Government Departments require businesses to be registered as a Company to apply for their Tenders and Contracts.

How to Register a Company

Step 1: Complete and submit the easy online sign-up form here.

Step 2: Your dedicated Consultant will call you to assist you with any questions you may have.

Step 3: Email your ID and easy supported documents – which your Consultant will explain.

Step 4: Within a few days you will receive your brand new Company ready to use for Tenders and Contracts, via email. You can contact your Consultant at any time on a toll-free number.

Related: New Fund For Small Businesses To Be Developed

Need a Company fast? Perhaps consider a Shelf Company

Company Partners offer a variety of Shelf Company Options to suit your needs, including 2016- year Registration Number Shelf Companies. Within 24 hours after purchase, you will receive the registered Shelf Company.

You can start using your Company Registration Number and Bank Account (for income) immediately.

Each Shelf Company includes a 2016 Year Registration Number, Free Share Certificates, a Free ‘Tax Number’ and a Free ‘Official BEE Affidavit’.

You can also make use of a Nedbank Business Bank Account that’s active for your Shelf Company.

Luckily, getting your own Shelf Company is easy in terms of compliance. All that’s required is that you are at least 18 years of age, an ID document / Passport and a South African Business Address.

Why use Company Partners to Register a Company?

Fast timeframes: Your Company will be registered fast and effectively online. Your documentation is set-up in less than 24 hours, after which CIPC will process it.

Simple requirements: The only requirement for Company Registration is an ID / Passport. Everything gets done online, so you can be based anywhere in South Africa or the World.

Dedicated Consultant: Your own dedicated professional Consultant takes care of the entire process – he or she is available on his / her email and also on a toll-free number.

Professional Service: With years of experience of representing our Clients in Government, the entire process runs smoothly over the Internet. No lost documents and no frustration.

Company Partners completes all necessary applications correctly and reviews all the paperwork for you. You simply have to wait for your company documents via e-mail, confirming when you may start trading using your registration detail.

Related: Beauty Of Failure: The Art Of Embracing Rejection

After Company Registration

Any new Business needs guidance to prepare for Tenders and Contracts. After Company Partners gets you registered for your Company, Company Partners can assist you through the entire Company start-up process (optional).

That means they will ensure you have everything you need for a Tender or Contract application like a new PTY Company, BEE, Tax Clearance, VAT Registration, Logo Design, Website, Business Plan, COID, Letter of Good Standing, NHBRC, Accounting, Payroll and more.

Get Started

To start, just complete and submit the easy application form here and a friendly Consultant will contact you. Alternatively contact Company Partners toll-free on 0800 007 269 (toll-free from landlines and cell phones).

Online Brochures (click on the image to download)

Services List:

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Start-up Advice

Alan Knott-Craig Answers Your Questions On Money And Partners

From starting the right business, to managing business partners and finding your magic number, there is a secret to happiness.

Alan Knott-Craig

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If I get rich will I be happy? — JC Lately

Does money equal happiness? Mostly, yes. Research in the US shows that your happiness is proportionate to your earnings up until you earn $80 000 per annum. Thereafter, incremental income gains have a negligible effect on your happiness.

In other words: More money will make you happy as long as you’re poor. Once you break out of poverty and enter a comfortable middle-class existence, more money will not make you happier.

These are the top three for old folks:

  • I wish I’d spent more time with family.
  • I wish I’d taken more risks.
  • I wish I’d travelled more.

Therein lies the secret to happiness. Spend time with your family. Take risks. Travel.

But first, make money. Don’t do any of the above until you’re making enough money not be stressed about money.

Related: Your Questions Answered With Alan Knott-Craig

What is the magic number? — Mushti

The magic number is the amount of money you need to not worry about money ever again. If you don’t need toys like Ferraris, yachts and jets, the magic number is R130 million. Here’s the math: R130 million will earn R9,1 million in interest annually (assuming 7% interest). After tax that is R5,46 million.

Assuming you need 50% to maintain a good lifestyle, that leaves approximately R2,7 million for reinvestment, which is enough to keep your capital amount in touch with inflation for 50 years. The balance of R2,7 million (after tax) is for your living costs. In South Africa, R2,7 million will afford you a lifestyle that allows you to send your kids to a great school and university, to travel overseas a couple of times a year, and to live in a comfortable house.

Over time your living costs (and inflation) will eat into your capital amount. After 50 years you should be down to nil, assuming you earn zero other income in that time.

In 50 years, you will probably be dead. If you’re not dead, your kids will be able to support you (because they love you and they have a great university education).

I am the sole director of a company (the others still have full-time jobs and don’t want to be conflicted) and there is pro-rata shareholding based on our initial shareholder loans. However, I am putting in most of the hard work, together with one of the other actuaries. How best do I manage the director/shareholder dynamic? I obviously want to make as much progress as possible but there are times when I need the input from the others (and their responses aren’t always as quick as I would like). — Mike

If you have any perception of unfairness regarding effort/risk vs reward, deal with it NOW! You can’t do so later. The best approach is honesty. Call your partners together. Explain your thinking. Perhaps argue for 25% ‘sweat equity’ for yourself. Everyone dilutes accordingly. Ideally cut a deal whereby you have an option to pay back all their loans, plus interest, within six months, and you get 100% of equity (unless they quit their jobs and join full-time).

Equity dissent must be resolved long before the business makes money, otherwise it will never be resolved.

Related: Alan Knott-Craig’s Answers On Selling Internationally And Researching Your Idea

What do you think of WiFi in taxis?— Ntembeko

It’s a good idea, but not original. Before embarking on a start-up, you should survey the landscape for competitors. Just because there are none doesn’t mean no one has tried your idea.

It just means that everyone that tried has failed. You need to be 100% sure that you have some ‘edge’ that makes you different from everyone who came before you (and failed). Otherwise you will fail. What is your advantage that is different to everyone who came before?


Read ‘Be A Hero’ today

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Start-up Advice

What You Need To Know About The Lean Start-up Model

The Lean Start-up philosophy was developed by Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur who also sat on venture capital advisory boards. He published The Lean Startup in 2011, igniting a movement around a new way of doing business.

Entrepreneur

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The model follows key precepts that include:

Taking untested products to market

The fact that too many start-ups begin with an idea for a product that they think people want, spending months (or even years) perfecting that product without ever testing it in the market with prospective customers.

When they fail to reach broad uptake from customers, it’s often because they never spoke to prospective customers and determined whether or not the product was interesting. The earlier you can determine customer feedback, the quicker you can adjust your model to suit market needs.

The ‘build-measure-learn’ feedback loop is a core component of lean start-up methodology

The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, a start-up can work on tuning the engine. This will involve measurement and learning and must include actionable metrics that can demonstrate cause and effect.

Utilising an investigative development method called the ‘Five Whys’

This involves asking simple questions to study and solve problems across the business journey. When this process of measuring and learning is done correctly, it will be clear that a company is either moving the drivers of the business model or not. If not, it is a sign that it is time to pivot or make a structural course correction to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy and engine of growth.

Lean isn’t only about spending less money

It’s also not only about failing fast and as cheaply as possible. It’s about putting a process in place, and following a methodology around product development that allows the business to course correct.

Progress in manufacturing is measured by the production of high quality goods

The unit of progress for lean start-ups is validated learning. This is a rigorous method for demonstrating progress when an entrepreneur is embedded in the soil of extreme uncertainty. Once entrepreneurs embrace validated learning, the development process can shrink substantially. When you focus on figuring the right thing to build — the thing customers want and will pay for, rather than an idea you think is good — you need not spend months waiting for a product beta launch to change the company’s direction. Instead, entrepreneurs can adapt their plans incrementally, inch by inch, minute by minute.

Source: theleanstartup.com

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