Is it better to have a mentor while building a business (to increase odds of success) or to learn on your own terms through failure?


Mistakes are good for those who learn from them but there is no logical explanation why you would choose to go through a long expensive and time consuming learning path filled with mistakes and 'lessons' when you can just learn as you go from an experienced individual who can help you reduce that path and minimize errors.

When I was launching my first startup, I reached out to a few connections of mine, including Craig (from Craigslist) and Aaron (CEO of - it was them two whom I worked with shortly and still failed that startup. It wasn't that the idea failed, but I learned so much on different perspectives that I completely abandoned what I had to refocus and launch a completely different business. Sold that business a few years later.

When you reach to mentors however, it's important for you to consider their history, their connections, their level of involvement and the closeness to your own business model - have they launched something similar? do they own a business which you can partner with once you have built a relationship with this mentor and built a good product?
Also, don't go with hard headed individuals who think they know best - no one knows best, what they are supposed to bring to the table is an experienced different perspective on the same situation you are going through now that they have gone through themselves - give you their perspective, introduce you to the right people, give advice and let you make your own decision with all things considered.

I have a friend who launched a very innovative mobile app, I think it could be huge if well played, but due to them having influence from so many 'mentors' they screwed up their own growth and now the guys are doing 'marketing' to try to get revenue - not realizing that in it self is a business that distracts from the long term.
My name is Humberto Valle, I'm the founder of Unthink, a digital marketing agency that is now globally known as the most helpful. If you would like to get in touch or need anything related to marketing please visit us at

Answered 7 years ago

If you can find a mentor who has experience in your field, that's great.

I get a lot of insight from my mastermind group which is made up of people from many different backgrounds.

Here's a podcast I was a guest on where I talk about how to build an amazing mastermind group.

Cheers and good luck.

David C Barnett

Request a call if you'd like my insight into your project.

Answered 7 years ago

From my experience (both as a mentor and accelerators founder / investor) I would say:
- Use community and your network to gain an initial vision;
- Gain your own experience to develop your vision;
- Then pick mentors to scale some specific areas or overcome some challenges (leadership, time-management, networking skills and etc).

In fact, nothing can replace your own experience. However, without this experience, you will also not be able to find and select relevant mentors who are really able to deliver a value within specific challenges.

Answered 7 years ago

In all my years as an Agent at the Entertainment Business, i have always found it is so much better to have a mentor to help you build your business. For the simple fact that when you do fail, when times are tough, and when you can't see thru the trees, a mentor can provide you with that clarity. Happy to discuss further. Good luck.

Answered 7 years ago

A business is a great way to enhance your income. One way to increase the chances of your success is to learn from other experienced and successful business owners (or coaches). While making mistakes always teaches you something, it is very desirable to have access to a mentor that can show you the way.

Running a small business is very challenging to say the least. A small business owner is expected to deal with some of the most difficult problems imaginable, include figuring out a way to pay the bills, making sure sales are strong, deciding where to invest precious marketing dollars, not to mention employee issues, technical disasters as well as a host of other things. No matter how difficult things get, there’s always a solution. It’s important that small business owners seek the advice of other people with similar experiences in order to gain insights into tackling these day-to-day business challenges.

After years in the e-commerce industry I have gained a tremendous amount of experience through my successes and from my mistakes. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for my mistakes and failures because I learned a lot from them. But sometimes it's really nice to avoid costly mistakes by getting advise from an experienced coach.

A good coach can share their knowledge about pressing business issues. They can inform you about useful technologies and what it takes to run a successful business. They can give you insights into the best strategies that they have used in their own business as well as the steps you should take to avoid making some of the same mistakes they had made.

Hopefully you will benefit from this information and will use it to build your own successful businesses.

If you have an pressing business issues or follow-up questions please feel free to reach out so we can discuss them.

Answered 7 years ago

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