This is series is brought to you in partnership with the Consumer Technology Association (formerly the Consumer Electronics Association). You can read the rest of the series here. “Founders have a tendency to drink their own Kool-Aid and can convince themselves it tastes good when perhaps it needs more or less sugar,” described Invisionate founder and CEO George Stepancich when asked why he thinks it’s important for entrepreneurs to seek out mentors. An experienced entrepreneur and a mentor himself for the Consumer Technology Association’s Mentor Program, Stepancich knows all too well how crucial it is for entrepreneurs to have trusted advisors. Unfortunately, for some entrepreneurs, there’s this innate unwillingness to seek mentors – and this could hurt them in the long-run. The Myth of Entrepreneur Self-Reliance “The myth of the American entrepreneur is based on self-reliance: a single-minded obsession with a goal, with a bit of arrogance sprinkled on it,” said Paul Sabbah, president and founder of Stamford International. “The arrogance serves a vital purpose – it convinces the founder that they won’t fail, despite the odds. But it also makes them less open to mentorship, for fear that taking advice somehow cheapens their accomplishment.” While entrepreneurship necessarily involves starting your own business, you shouldn’t misinterpret it as something that must be pursued without help or advice from others. On the contrary: the road to entrepreneurship is paved with the footsteps of many, all working together to make something succeed. According to Greg Borchardt, managing director and cofounder of Caerus Ventures, the most successful entrepreneurs are actually the ones that actively seek out advice and feedback – whether that’s through a mentor or a group of advisors: “[These entrepreneurs] understand their strengths and weaknesses, and they surround themselves with people who have complimentary skill sets. Successful entrepreneurs are open to continuous learning.” Entrepreneurs (even serial entrepreneurs) don’t know everything. And, even if you did, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have people keeping tabs on you. Even if it’s just having someone else reinforce your certain beliefs or strategies, having a mentor can help.
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