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What is a mentor and why do you need one?

October 26, 2020

8 min read

This story originally appeared on Incmty

What is a mentor and why do you need one?
What is a mentor and why do you need one?

If you are and you are looking for support from someone with experience and knowledge to overcome challenges. The guidance of a mentor is what you need to achieve your goals.

INCmty spoke to Juan Pablo Bustamante, former CEO of Grupo Vital, made up of companies such as Omnia Médica, Control Vital, Plan Vital, Omnialab and Humana Vital, all of which are dedicated to healthcare and operate in several Latin American countries. He was also named Mentor of the Year 2019 by Endeavor Peru. Then he tells us about the topic:Mentor, the best ally for success “.

Image: INCmty

INCmty: How do you define the figure of a mentor in the ecosystem from your own experience as an entrepreneur and Endeavor mentor?

Juan Pablo Bustamante (JPB): The mentor needs to know how to ask the right questions to help the entrepreneur and his team solve problems or identify opportunities. He is someone who anticipates adversity. In addition, it is a support that has experience in a specific area and whose only satisfaction is helping others achieve their goals. The mentor can also share his social capital, ie his network of contacts, in order to generate more value for the entrepreneur.

INCmty: How was your experience with your mentors when you started out as an entrepreneur?

JPB: Much about the passage. I believe that the essential role of the mentor is to accompany and give advice. Sometimes the role of the entrepreneur is a lonely role and you have a lot of fears and insecurities. And not necessarily the mentor should give you all the answers, but rather help you find those that are within you. I believe the entrepreneur will always know more about the business than the mentor. But in order to get from an idea to a company, this support is necessary. Sometimes the entrepreneur just needs to be heard, not the answers. In addition, advice or support is always essential to move forward.

INCmty: How can you build and maintain a good relationship between entrepreneur and mentor?

JPB: There are two components: trust and chemistry. Trust is something that is granted from the start and it is up to both parties to maintain and cherish it. If either of the two has an excessive ego, they cannot take advantage of the relationship. It must also be taken into account that in the relationship between entrepreneur and mentor knowledge is not one-sided; even sometimes the mentor learns more from that understanding than the other way around. It is also important to develop Competencies knowing how to read people, understanding what is behind some uncertainties and fears, in order to get the most out of the relationship between both parties. However, the ‘chemistry’ component is real and unfortunately not all relationships work. But that doesn’t mean that mentoring doesn’t work. When you have confidence and chemistry, the sky is the limit.

INCmty: who chooses whom?

JPB: I think they meet, the same thing that happens in a relationship. For example, in my case, I’ve been fortunate to work with more than 30 Endeavor companies (based in Peru, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, and the United States). In some cases, this relationship transcends the mentoring to friendship environment. And often what I learn from entrepreneurs is more than what I can contribute because they manage to instill energy, passion, determination and knowledge in you. Working with entrepreneurs is a breath of fresh air because you understand and learn from a new sector, challenges and technologies. It’s a wonderful win-win relationship.

INCmty: How do you analyze, from your point of view and with your experience on the Latin American market, the figure of the mentor in the region’s ecosystem?

JPB: There are many numbers within the ecosystem: entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, academics, SMEs, startups, scale-ups. Everyone with a role. In the case of Latin America, there are many options and much to be done, although unfortunately there is informality and corruption in the countries of the region that prevent companies from growing. We also have little regulatory support from governments. What ultimately kills a company is a lack of working capital. This vision of the real problems of companies that have been in the market for many years and have some stability can help entrepreneurs advise them.

INCmty. Do you think it is better for entrepreneurs in Latin America to have a mentor from the region?

JPB: If it’s a product or service with a very technical, technological, or platform topic, mentors can work from anywhere in the world. However, if you have a product or service that implies your growth or development will be in a Latin American, European, or Asian ecosystem, it is important that it be someone from the region. In the Latin American countries we deal with issues such as inflation or bureaucracy that are specific to the region. Therefore, a mentor who knows this context can help or advise you based on their experience. Even have a mentor from the same country you are starting out in.

INCmty: From your point of view and based on the mentoring that you have given, where do you think entrepreneurs fail?

JPB: In the case of Endeavor, with whom I’ve worked for two years Scale ups (Companies with traction) are searched to find the turning point so that they can grow ten times more. On the other hand, for entrepreneurs it also depends on the moment in which they are. For example, I would tell a recent college graduate trying to start a business to take a risk. And from my experience, I can say that perseverance and resilience are more important than talent or the million dollar idea. Success often means continuing to insist and reinvent yourself, listening and moving on. As soon as the entrepreneur has overcome various phases and difficulties, accompanying the mentors is also very important, as the path is a roller coaster ride of emotions and the mentor stabilizes the situation.

When you have little experience and a lot of passion, sometimes you win the feelings, then you maximize the problems, which with the help of a mentor can be perfectly minimized. Mentors have the opportunity to recycle our mistakes, sometimes as a therapeutic method. This without losing the importance that the entrepreneur has to make mistakes, because much more is learned from the mistake than from the success.

INCmty: Last message to the INCmty community

JPB: Each figure can find its role in the ecosystem. In the case of students, they already come with the chip to commit themselves and be their own boss. Learning and doing must go hand in hand. I recommend you start small and dream big. Meet with people who offer you added value. Work with people who complement your skills and learn to be resilient. Success lies in perseverance and determination. With SMEs, the real value they have in the Latin American economy is often not recognized. Unfortunately, there is a lack of tax rules for SMEs to take the leap they need to grow even further. With investors and companies, investments in startups and sacel-ups It’s a very interesting way to diversify investment portfolios, develop a nose to see which ones may have a better future than others, and that’s good for everyone. For their part, companies shyly begin to research Corporate venture capitalThis is a way to grow without losing sight of your core business areas.