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Entrepreneurs Share The Best Advice From Mentors

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Aug. 31 2022, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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To help you see the benefit of mentorship, we asked entrepreneurs this question for their best insights gained as mentees. From owning your own mistakes to breaking big goals into small steps, several pieces of advice may help you shape your career and personal life into success, just like the entrepreneurs who shared them.

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Own your mistakes.

We all make mistakes, so the best advice I ever received from my mentor was to make sure that I always own mine, learn from them, and move on. Many entrepreneurs feel that a mistake is a sign of weakness, in that it demonstrates a lack of knowledge, or even worse, a sign of incompetence, but that’s not the case.

In owning your mistakes and evolving from them, you gain valuable perspective and show a sense of humility that will ingratiate you to your team. In admitting and owning your mistakes, you will demonstrate your human side while preventing your ego from taking over, which would only waste precious time and lead to poor future decisions.

Greg Gillman, MuteSix

Focus on what you want rather than what you should be.

The best advice I’ve ever received from a mentor is to focus on what I want rather than what I should be. We often hear what we should do to have a successful career and grow professionally. Another internship, additional certification, a project in a foreign country, or entering a specific industry. However, do we ask ourselves if this is something we want to do?

Before committing to any new task, you should first discover your goals and needs. It’s essential to always stay true to yourself and do things that fit your long-term objectives. Don’t get me wrong; this approach doesn’t mean you never do anything challenging! I do not doubt that we often need to push ourselves and step beyond our comfort zones to achieve our goals. We should only remember that our actions should reflect who we are rather than what we think others expect of us.

Dorota Lysienia, LiveCareer

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View others as your teachers.

As a business leader, it is easy to view yourself as the one who guides, but my mentor gave me some great advice: always view others as your teacher. Many qualities in a relationship assign specific roles in our minds, whether it is seniority, experience, titles, or position. However, those do not delineate who possesses information or expertise over another. In approaching everyone as not just a colleague, co-worker, or employee but a teacher, you can always put yourself in a position to improve.

By placing titles, experience, or other qualities to the side and simply viewing another as being in a position to teach you, you will always have the opportunity to gain knowledge and better your chances of success.

Anthony Puopolo, Rex MD

Don't make assumptions.

One of the best pieces of advice I've received is never to assume what you haven't confirmed. People, in general, have a tendency to try and guess what other people feel, think or how might react. If you make too many assumptions, you may miss out on opportunities. For example, if you're trying to make business connections, you don't want to assume that potentially valuable connections have no interest in speaking to you. Even if you're apprehensive about a situation, like reaching out to someone if you don't try, how can you ever really know what the outcome will be? This is advice that fits many facets of a person's life. Don't make guesses; if you don't know or aren't sure, ask and confirm.

Boye Fajinmi, TheFutureParty

Seek opportunities that pay you to learn.

My paradigm shifted when a mentor asked, "How much did you pay for your undergrad degree? How much is your boss paying you to learn?" I had never thought of it that way and was considering a fresh start. As someone who didn't love school, I decided that getting paid to learn something I was actually interested in was too good to pass up. I strived for another two years and continue to embrace continuous education with ROI.

Juan Kingsbury, Career Blindspot

Stay focused on future goals.

Will it matter in ten years? It’s easy to let your inner perfectionist take over, but when you sense this happening, stop and ask yourself how much your current obsession will matter to your company’s overall mission in the future. Sometimes things that feel huge today aren’t in the scheme of things. Stay focused on your ultimate goal; as the saying goes, Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Michael Van, Furnishr

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Embrace the uncomfortable.

“Embrace the uncomfortable” is a quality piece of advice because whenever you are the most anxious, scared, or uncomfortable about a big career move or business idea, it probably means it's the right choice and going to be a success. After all, it shows that you care and that you are risking everything for it to become something special.

Tracey Beveridge, Personnel Checks

Find your safe zones in times of uncertainty.

The best advice I ever received from a mentor was to find my safe zones in great times of uncertainty. Change is scary, and when you can lean into comfort or your safe zone, you immediately become more resilient and calmer to face the storms ahead.

Hannah Austin, SheShatters LLC

Take time for yourself.

Put aside time for yourself. As a startup founder, my work often consumes my life. It's deeply personal to me, and it's easy to fall into a routine of eating, sleeping, and breathing business. But a mentor reminded me of the importance of taking time for myself to avoid burnout. It doesn't matter if I use it to rest, exercise, or socialize. Taking time away from work can reset my mind and be sharp for work when it's time to focus.

Rachel Reid, Subtl Beauty

Hire trustworthy people.

The best advice I have been given from my mentor is that if you have to choose between talented and trustworthy people, always go with the person you can trust. Because, even if they are averagely talented, you can train them and make them useful in the future. When building a team, we can quickly bring the wrong people in, which can damage the company. Be very careful and always hire based on trust.

Anupama Jha, PureJewels

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Never stop learning.

When I took on my first role as a Marketing Coordinator, our Chief Marketing Officer at the time took me under his wing. One thing he constantly reminded me to do was "never stop learning." The world around us continuously changes, and new strategies and practices come with change. Do everything you can to stay current and always stand out.

Amber Bolusan, Stukent

Remember nothing is perfect.

My first ever business mentor was always telling me not to let 'perfect' be the enemy of 'good.' As a natural perfectionist, there was a time early in my entrepreneurial career when I would sometimes delay the execution of important tasks or projects because I felt it wasn't exactly as I wanted it to be. My mentor helped me understand that, firstly, nothing is perfect, and secondly (and more importantly), delaying essential tasks can significantly drag on progress. Knowing what 'good enough' looks like isn't always easy. Still, with practice, I've found it's possible to identify a point well before perfection when work is sufficiently 'ready' to progress- whether launching a new product, building marketing materials, or moving forward on a complex project.

John White, We Run

Stay quiet when asking questions.

As I was learning the art of making a sale, my mentor taught me the most valuable lesson ever. He said, "When you ask your customer a question, be quiet. I don't care how long it takes the customer to answer or how uncomfortable the silence makes you feel. Don't say a word until the customer answers your question." Once I learned that I quickly became the top salesman at that store.

Joel Libava, Franchise Selection Specialists Inc.

Break big goals into small steps.

"You win a race one step at a time." It can be easy to get overwhelmed when you're chasing big goals; my mentor used this analogy to remind me of the importance of slowing down. No matter what you try to do, the best way to get there is to take each step individually. By remembering that even the biggest accomplishments are the sum of many smaller steps, you can break those goals down into something more achievable.

Vimla Black Gupta, Ourself

This article was written by Brett Farmiloe and originally appeared on Score.

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By: Score

Since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs. Each year, SCORE’s 10,000 volunteer business experts provide 350,000+ free small business mentoring sessions, workshops and educational services to clients in 300 chapters nationwide. In 2016, SCORE volunteers provided 2.2+ million hours to help create more than 55,000 small businesses and 130,000 jobs. For more information about starting or operating a small business, visit SCORE at www.score.org. Follow @SCOREMentors on Facebook and Twitter for the latest small business news and updates.

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