Your cousin Lerato is leaving her job to start her entrepreneurship journey next year and she needs to know what she needs to pack in her suitcase on this entrepreneurship journey.
As a first time entrepreneur, or a startup entrepreneur who has had a rough year, how do you prepare and plan for the following year.
You don’t plan for next year, next year. You plan for it now.
So, what must she pack in her suitcase?
Firstly, pack a mentor in your suitcase.
No matter what happens, when Lerato leaves her job to start a business, she needs to have a mentor.
Entrepreneurship is hard and is very lonely.
Having a mentor, someone who has done it before and has the experience of being an entrepreneur, will act as a guide, a road map to your destination.
Leonardo da Vinci’s story is an example of what happens when you have a mentor.
Leonardo was born out of wedlock and was prohibited from attending school.
His father, a notary, had access to a large supply of paper which was a rare commodity at the time. So, Leonardo would walk through the forests of Vinci and draw.
Over time, Leonardo built an excellent body of work that led to Andrea Del Verrochio to hire him as an apprentice.
Leonardo would go on to learn many different sciences under his mentor and become a master artist.
As he was still scorned because of his birth, Leonardo demonstrated grit as he pursued hundreds of inventions including helicopters, parachutes, and a giant crossbow. This combination of an education from a leading expert and mentor combined with grit led Leonardo da Vinci grew to greatness.
I suspect all great founders and CEOs are supported by a network of great mentors. Most of these mentorship relationships are hidden in the shadows, not often mentioned. But that lack of visibility belies their critical importance.
Oprah was mentored by Maya Angelou.
Bill Gates is mentored by Warren Buffett.
Mike Tyson was mentored by Constantine “Cus” D’Amato.
Nelson Mandela was mentored by Walter Sisulu.
Mentors will help you learn something about yourself that you wouldn’t have without them. They see potential in you, they see your blindspots and biases and they push you to maximise your potential.
Don’t try to do this entrepreneurship journey alone.
Italians have a little joke, that the world is so hard a man must have two fathers to look after him, and that’s why they have godfathers.
The Bible says: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Africans say: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far go together”
You want to go far in your entrepreneurship journey? Pack a mentor in your suitcase.