Whether you’re just starting out in the world of business or you have years of experience at different companies, a mentor is an incredibly valuable tool. A mentor is someone who’s experienced it all, who’s seen a lifetime of business changes and wants to share that knowledge with a new generation.

And with a mentor in your corner, you could learn a lot. There’s endless potential in having a mentor, which is why they’re becoming a key component of many universities’ MBA programs. But what exactly makes a mentor so valuable, especially if you’re already learning the basics of business in a classroom?

Here are just a few reasons why having a mentor is so important, whether you’re a current MBA student or a graduate who’s started working.

Mentors Offer Experience You Can’t Find in a Classroom

While MBA classes offer a wealth of information during lectures, coursework, and assignments, there’s some information that simply can’t be learned from a book or course. And many business lessons need to be experienced in order to fully understand their effects on different aspects of a company.

A mentor can offer you an education on those experiences. While you may not have firsthand experience, a mentor will – and he or she can share different challenges, accomplishments, and even real-time business decisions with you. For example, if you’re struggling with a business concept, a mentor could explain a scenario in which he had to put that concept to use. If you’re about to embark on a new project, your mentor could offer advice to make it successful.

Listening to a mentor’s experiences in the business world can help you avoid mistakes, make more informed decisions, and even guide your career as you use their anecdotes and advice just like you’d use any information you learned in a classroom. And the more experienced your mentor is, the more you can learn from them.

A Mentor Can Guide You to Success in Business

There’s no one secret to success, but having a mentor’s support and advice can lead you to increased success in the business world. Mentors are an incredibly valuable source of coaching, education, and guidance, and they offer you opportunities that others cannot.

As Entrepreneur explains, the positive impact a mentor can have on your success is proven: a 2013 survey found that 80 percent of CEOs had mentorship, while a research study found that 93 percent of startup companies said that mentorship was instrumental to success.

A mentor can offer you plenty of avenues to success. Mentors can offer support when you’re in a tough spot, advice when you’re making big decisions, and valuable connections that can leapfrog you to new heights. After all, a big part of business is networking, or connecting with others who can help you grow, start, or progress in business.

And a mentor is a network. In addition to getting valuable help from your mentor, he or she can put you in touch with an entire network of people who can benefit your career and your business. They can introduce you to business contacts, friends, and even investors, vouching for you and helping you network as you get started in the field.

With your mentor’s keys to success behind you, you’re also more likely to stay in business longer. SBA reports that businesses with mentors are more likely to survive – while 30 percent of businesses don’t make it past two years, 70 percent of businesses with mentors survive 5 years or longer.

You Can Prevent Mistakes and Serious Missteps

Wondering why mentoring can make businesses successful? Part of the reason is because mentors offer valuable advice to catch any potential mistakes before they happen.

While a mentor is often a supportive, encouraging voice, a mentor is also there to offer you critical feedback. And part of that feedback is constructive criticism – criticism that could prevent you from making a serious mistake in your career or business. Mentors can be, and should be, completely honest with whoever they’re mentoring, telling you the reality of situations, decisions, and business relationships.

A mentor can pinpoint your flaws, where you’re short-sighted, and where you need to make changes. And that insight is crucial because it helps you more clearly make decisions and keep your ego in check. With your mentor’s critical eye and honest feedback, you can improve and become a better business professional, growing with advice rathering than floundering alone.

If you’re struggling or you need to work on particular skills, a mentor can help you improve. With a mentor’s guidance, you can set goals, work on projects, and hone your skills. A mentor’s advice on what’s important, how to be a leader, and how to shape your character and values can’t be taught in a classroom, and it can be crucial to your success as a leader.

Mentoring Can Help You at Any Stage of Your Education

Now that you know just how beneficial mentoring can be as you get started in business or as you continue progressing, it’s clear that mentorship is an important part of any business professional’s education. And if you’re considering or already enrolled in an MBA program, you’ll want to make sure mentorship is included in your chosen program.

When your MBA program includes mentoring, you’ll be able to build a relationship with a mentor who’s either part of the university faculty or a business leader. You can work with a mentor whose specialization aligns with yours – like someone who’s built a career in finance if that’s your focus. No matter your mentor, mentoring is a benefit that can last you long after your MBA program ends, and you can build an important lifelong relationship.

If you’re already finished with your MBA program or are well into your business career, you can still reap the benefits of a mentor. You just need to find someone who would like to be your mentor. You could ask a friend, a leader within your business, or a role model you’d love to learn from. It’s never too late to get valuable insight and guidance from a mentor.

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