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Mentoring is overrated [Entrepreneurship
Posted on January 14, 2013 @ 08:55:00 AM by Paul Meagher

The term "angel" in "angel investing" suggests that the angel investor will, in addition to providing money, also provide guidance; that they will take you under their wing and mentor you towards success. I do not want to dispute the fact that angel investors, because of their success in business, can offer entrepreneurs much useful advice; however, I do want to suggest that entrepreneurs shouldn't necessarily be seeking investment in the hopes of being mentored by an investor. Your business idea should be able to stand on it's own merits and your business investor is primarily interested in infusing some capital into your business because they see it as a good investment opportunity.

The idea of being mentored arguably applies more to learning how to do a job well rather than being an entrepreneur. There is no formula on how to be a successful entrepreneur and thus no mentor that can tell you how to succeed. There are people who can give you advice along the way, but for the most part it is up to you to achieve the goals you have set out for yourself. Waiting for someone to tell you how to succeed in your business is a misplaced hope and probably dooms you to failure if you keep doubting your own plans and ability to execute on them.

The major news on the internet over the weekend concerned the suicide of the brilliant social and internet activist, Aaron Swartz (one of the co-founders of Reddit). Aaron started to make waves among the internet intelligentsia when he was 14 and committed suicide when he was 26. Cory Doctorow wrote a heartfelt statement on his death RIP, Aaron Swartz. Cory made the following relevant observation:

Aaron had powerful, deeply felt ideals, but he was also always an impressionable young man, someone who often found himself moved by new passions. He always seemed somehow in search of mentors, and none of those mentors ever seemed to match the impossible standards he held them (and himself) to.

This was cause for real pain and distress for Aaron, and it was the root of his really unfortunate pattern of making high-profile, public denunciations of his friends and mentors.

As an entrepreneur, you might ask yourself what you are looking for in a mentor and whether those expectations are realistic. It is arguably better to be skeptical about the value of mentorship and put more faith in your own skills and abilities to blaze your own way in business. Your success or failure as an entrepreneur are your own responsability and cannot ultimately be blamed on the bad advice of a mentor.

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