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A guide to getting the best advice and mentor for your business

Opinions expressed by australiabusinessblog.com contributors are their own.

Entrepreneurs are by nature independent, driven and energetic individuals. Whether an investment opportunity is secured or slips away, whether a new product booms or falls, whether a business venture ultimately succeeds, it all depends on them.

That much I know from experience. I’ve co-founded four disruptive companies and supported more than 10 others I’ve invested in. I endured the early mornings and late nights, bearing the stress of big decisions and taking risks when the rewards were good. But there’s one more thing I’ve always done – something I urge all founders to do – and it takes advice. A lot of it.

Why? Because despite our love for autonomy, entrepreneurs can’t have that all of the answers all of time, especially when they start. But do you know who does? Those who have walked the same path before.

Throughout my career, I have benefited from picking the brains of corporate leaders who are at the top. Their insight has added depth and diversity to my decision-making, and by learning from their experiences, I’ve been able to better cope with the challenges they once faced as well.

Taking advice, however, is a skill in itself, one that I’ve honed over the years. These are the principles I follow when I ask for help from those I look up to.

Related: You Need a Mentor. Here you can find one for free

The importance of trust

First and foremost, you need to make sure you seek advice from the right sources. Seasoned business owners are always the best place to start – they’ve done the hard work and know exactly the obstacles entrepreneurs face.

Trust is another crucial factor. Before tapping into someone’s wisdom, make sure they have your best interests at heart. That doesn’t mean individuals just agree with you – “yes men” and “yes women” cause more problems than they solve – but people you can trust to act in good faith.

Trust is also key to creating a safe space where concepts and concerns can be shared without fear of embarrassment. Some of the best and most daring ideas get lost because inexperienced entrepreneurs lack the confidence to share them with those who admire them.

To remedy this, I suggest working with a designated mentor – someone who understands your vision and goals and is a constant source of support throughout your business journey. They may not be a formal member of the company, but if a person feels personally invested in your success, their advice will have all the more impact.

Related: 7 Reasons You Need a Mentor for Entrepreneurial Success

Don’t assume you know best

So you have built a relationship of trust with a business veteran who shares your goals and ambition. That’s a good place to be. Next, you need to make sure you’re asking for help in a way that’s conducive to success.

Before you get in touch, ask yourself this: What do I hope to achieve by asking for advice? If the answer is finding a solution to a real dilemma, go ahead. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for confirmation for a decision you’ve already made, neither side has much to gain.

So it’s no secret that entrepreneurs often value their own opinion – it’s one of the reasons we set up our own companies. This kind of stubborn approach is almost always an advantage in business; unless it affects your ability to take honest advice and recognize when someone else knows best. If a mentor recommends a change of direction and deep down you know it’s the right thing to do, don’t let pride get in the way of your sanity.

Related: Why Entrepreneurs Need Mentors and How to Find Them

Don’t hesitate to push back

Of course, it’s not a good idea to blindly follow every bit of guidance you get, no matter how well-intentioned it may be. If you strongly suspect that an advice is wrong, don’t hesitate to push back and provide a counterargument. That safe space we talked about earlier, it works both ways – that dispensing wisdom has to be willing to scrutinize their positions.

If, after a long back-and-forth, you’re still unsure about a particular recommendation, sit with it for a while and let things settle. It’s also worth getting a second opinion, assuming it comes from an equally reliable source. This can be daunting – you don’t want to appear disloyal – but any business leader worth their money knows that caution comes first. In addition, any advice should be considered preliminary; something that is discussed, digested, acted upon and then revisited later.

Related: Asking for help is good for you and your business

A founder’s greatest asset

There is a strong thread of resilience in every australiabusinessblog.com’s DNA – and ultimately there is no substitute for your own judgment.

But no solo australiabusinessblog.com, no matter how motivated, can solve every challenge they encounter. That is why access to reliable and qualified advice is one of the greatest assets a founder can have.


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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