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For many entrepreneurs, few things are more rewarding than building a board of high-profile advisors. The benefits are obvious: advisors can bring valuable knowledge and contacts to a company, and help the entrepreneur build his or her business.

But for entrepreneurs (and those looking to create a promising career path), it's worth remembering that finding a mentor can be just as important -- if not more important. Here are six reasons why.

Somebody has walked a mile in your shoes before

There's a good chance that when you find yourself facing a new challenge, or in a situation you've never been in before, somebody else out there has dealt with a similar challenge or situation.

In an ideal world, that person might be an advisor who can share his or her experience, helping you see options you hadn't thought of, or providing moral support for whatever decision you decide to make.

Honest feedback is hard to come by

Obtaining honest feedback on business and professional matters is often more difficult than one might think. Friends and family can be too positive, or negative. Colleagues may be conflicted, or want to avoid saying something that could harm their relationship with you.

More trusted consigliere than friend or colleague, a mentor has the luxury of being honest with you when you call on him or her because the bulk of the relationship is based on the provision of advice.

A mentor can inspire

Just because a mentor isn't exactly a 'friend' doesn't mean that a mentor is limited to providing cold, detached advice. Mentors are often successful, accomplished individuals who like giving back.

The stories they share with you won't simply provide lessons that will help see things from a different angle or make better decisions, they can often inspire you. Whether you're starting a business or trying to build a career, this kind of inspiration can be invaluable.

A mentor cares more about you than your current job or business

Many entrepreneurs take pride in recruiting advisors to help provide feedback and guidance on their businesses. And to be sure, advisors often provide plenty of value. But many times, advisors are chosen because of what they might bring to the business -- not the entrepreneur.

A mentor, on the other hand, is somebody who cares about you. Whether you start a new business, or move to a different job, your mentor goes with you. Your company's advisor may not.

Your mentor's advice is free

A mentor relationship isn't based on equity in a business, payments for attending board meetings, or any other form of compensation that relates in any way to money. True mentors are looking for something money can't provide, and this fosters a relationship based solely on mutual respect.

When speaking to your mentor, you don't have to worry that he or she is trying to take a piece of what you're building, or promoting interests that might be counter to your own. Your mentor is invested in your success and happiness -- nothing less, nothing more.

Being a mentee will help you become a better mentor

One of the great things about a mentor-mentee relationship is that it typically evolves into a two-way interaction in which the mentee provides just as much value to the mentor as the mentor does to the mentee. In the end, someone who has been a mentee is better prepared to one day become a mentor, continuing one of the business world's most virtuous cycles.

Patricio Robles

Published 30 August, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2380 more posts from this author

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Leane

I would love having a mentor. I live in a small town and I doubt there is anyone here who even knows what affiliate marketing is! I don't know how to find someone who is willing to give me their time for free. Therefore, I have bought into an affiliate marketing coaching program. It's working out OK. I'd love to know if you have any ideas on how to find a mentor!

almost 5 years ago

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Clare Brace

I second that Leane.

I think networking maybe one option, generally speaking to the right people at the right time and place is one way you could hook yourself a mentor.

But really, how many of the big entrepreneurs we know about (alan sugar, richard branson) have a mentor?

almost 5 years ago

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Alex Debkalyuk

I guess services like formspring.com could help people like this meet.

almost 5 years ago

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Samiullah Khan

I like the part that "mentor cares about you then the job/etc" because mentor always search or try to find ability and talent in you, rather in himself.

almost 5 years ago

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Katrice Houston

A mentor shows strong leadership skills. Having a mentor shadows you through challenging career paths and life. I suggest everyone find a mentor who has been down their career path. Some may not even know they hold the title of mentor but there coaching skills in business says otherwise.

almost 5 years ago

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Gregory

In some of the fields it is almost impossible to cut down the learning curve without a mentor. Take the example of internet marketing, people who have mentors find out fast as to what works and what does not and then focus all their energy on things that work. This helps them leapfrog ahead.

almost 5 years ago

John J B Russell

John J B Russell, B2B Business Development & Marketing Director at Looking for Work

Hi Patricio, I realise I am a little late to the party but believe having a good mentor and someone who can be honest with your situation, aspirations and capabilities is invaluable. Great post and thanks for sharing.

8 months ago

John J B Russell

John J B Russell, B2B Business Development & Marketing Director at Looking for Work

Having a mentor adds considerable value to the person being mentored as well as the mentor themselves, as they challenge themselves to become a better or best version of themselves. Great reasons listed - as well as helping you be happier and leading a more fulfilling and rewarding life!

8 months ago

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