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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Are Mentors Important in Setting Up a Business?

Are Mentors Important in Setting Up a Business?
By Dean Pax Lapid 

Wealthstrategy article from trulyrichclub. Just to share with you.

Are Mentors Important in Setting Up a Business?
By Dean Pax Lapid 

We recently concluded an ENTREP M.B.A. at the Asian Institute of Management for two days. Yes, actually two half days (midweek of Wednesday 6pm-10pm and the following Saturday 1pm-5pm) only. Our workshop was attended by 42 serious participants coming from the professional world (some retiring, others wanting and others hoping to become instant entrepreneurs). But our M.B.A. is not the AIM masters degree program but rather what I coined “Magandang Business Advice”- in business parlance MENTORING.

Roughly half of these professionals want “instant businesses” just like instant 3-in-1 coffee. To make it happen, you need some catalyst. If you read my GoNegosyo book, 21 Steps on How to Start Your Own Business, I had a chapter about three elements of what people always want in a deal – CHEAP, QUICK & GOOD.

Especially in business set-up, CHEAP/QUICK is not necessarily GOOD. (That’s why I always caution people to study the deals with franchisors offering promotions such as buy-one take-one in a cart business). If the business is really good from the franchisor’s perspective, why then is he offering it at a hefty discount? QUICK/GOOD is not necessarily CHEAP. That’s why they went for the hardcore mentoring at AIM.

(By the way you do not need to pay AIM rates. Bro Bo is organizing the 5th ENTREP WORSHOP under the TRULYRICHCLUB this July 14th/28th, two full days of entrepreneurship workshop to crack your business passion, evolve your creative idea into a profitable business, and work out your high level business plan mentored by three AIM professors). I’ll be your tor-mentor and mentor at the same time! LOL.  

Seriously, I hope there’s still some slots open as I only accept 50 committed students. YES, MENTORING IS VERY IMPORTANT TO DIRECT YOU TO THE PATHWAY OF BUSINESS SUCCESS! 

Let me give you an actual mentoring situation for one of our participants of the Entrep MBA. They were mentored by Sir Ardy Roberto (my co-angelpreneur). 

Hi Sir,
Thank you so much for mentoring us (me and my husband) last MBA session. I really noted your suggestions on how I can start up again with my ‘events’ business. I finally thought of a possible name: “Glitz and Glamour Event Management” (no matching record yet in DTI), and somehow I believe it’s relevant to the business (hehehe). Also, I was able to read your two books already (Buhay na Hindi Bitin and Pera na Hindi Bitin)...and I really learned a lot...and gave me inspiration. 

Just want to share my thought. Thank you once again. More power! 


Hi, Jac 
Thanks for the feedback. I am happy that you got value from the seminar and the mentoring session. About your proposed name, you might want to test it first to your prospective customers. I personally think that the name is too long. Perhaps you might want to shorten it to Glamour Events Management (GEM) -- the abbreviation is memorable also.

You can also add your name to the name in your branding so that it looks very personal, e.g. GLAMOUR EVENTS MANAGEMENT by Jac Oebanda Weddings, VIP Functions, Product Launches, ______ (list here the kind of events you do) Hope all will go well with you. 

Hi Sir Ardy, 
Thank you once again for the suggestion on the name- GEM. With that I was inspired to create my own logo over the weekend (kindly see attachment).

I am now composing my letter to my friends and families to inform them that I’m back to do business you suggested as well... 

Hoping for your continuing support. More power to all ANGELpreneurs!!! 


Just to highlight the impact of mentoring – here are some short comments amongst the participants gathered by the Entrep MBA organizers:

Thank you Sir Pax, 
I’ve learned from the two half-day sessions of MBA. I consider you as one of my mentors. Your book will also be a guide for me in building my business. I hope that the two-day MBA seminar will not be the last we can contact you to ask some help and guidance in developing our business.

Thank you, thank you so much, 
Ed Tengco (Photo Booth Business) More time given each topic and mentoring. Most sulit seminar ever! Thank you. Keep up the good work on inspiring current and future entrepreneurs! (Hanna Buena-Pet Grooming business)

Good job!!! Sobrang sulit ng seminar na ito. I’ve learned a lot. Thank you and God bless... I’ve learned a lot! Looking forward to seeing you guys again. Good job Dean Pax!

Though we were not given enough time to answer the assignment, it made us realize the businesses that we really want to do. We had a wonderful time. I’m not the business type but this was really insightful.

I hope there will be a sort of ‘call an angelpreneur’ or ‘business help online’ It was a great experience. Hope to attend more soon. You have a great vision for the future of the country.

Thank you for holding this kind of hopeful seminars. I love everything in it! Thank you for the lessons imparted to us. This would be a great help in our journey..

Now to our MENTORING topic (I’m back in the Dean mode)One of the success factors to developing a new business is getting one or more mentors. The level of mentoring can go from adhoc advice (just like what we did at MBA recently) to close-mentoring on a weekly basis (what I did for my Entrep students at ESA when I was dean of the program).

Here are my four reasons why mentors are important:

Mentor wealthstrategy
1. I have experienced that many startups come from the minds of young people (as well as young at heart) with a lot of ambition and enthusiasm. Although enthusiasm, passion or ambition is a great thing, there is no doubt that experience counts a lot. I’ve always said that “In youth we learn, in age we understand.” I have indeed experienced personally that accelerated programs (college, career, craft) need to have a mentorship element to be successful. Having the advice of someone who ‘has been there done that’ is always useful to a new venture.

2. Another important element of mentoring for early stage business is the ability of the mentor to open doors for the new company. As a mentor, you must open your network of contacts to your mentee. I remember the difficulty of my young ESA students to penetrate the building administrator of a big mall. I had to negotiate with the mall’s leasing group for my five students to be located at the basement of the mall. A good mentor should be able to help young entrepreneurs get past the entry barriers. 

3. Within our GoNegosyo circles, we each have our core competences. I use other angelpreneurs other than myself when it comes to particular areas of competence. There are areas where I have the business information but am not the expert- such as accounting (Tess Dimaculangan), marketing (Sir Ardy Roberto), product development (Prof. Reuel Virtucio). These mentors with their particular expertise can be very helpful in guiding young entrepreneurs from making mistakes that may take months to uncover.

4. Finally,a mentor must have the helicopter view of the business. Imagine a helicopter that is able to hover on top of the trees (forest) and yet able to lower (focus) within a specific area. Having a helicopter ‘view’ enables a good mentor to ask difficult questions about the high level business plan at the same time deal in particular elements of the business such as mission, objectives and ideas that could be overlooked by the entrepreneur.

Some of the difficult questions I have posted regularly were: 
* Why are you doing this business other than money? 
* Why are you not looking at a particular segment or solution? 
* Why are you proposing to do this (strategy) in the first place? 

In summary, passion/enthusiasm alone will blind the wanna-be entrepreneurs to obvious mistakes in his business plan. Mentors are critical to the sustainable development of a new venture. 

Let me share with you a caption that I have encountered while doing my PhD research work (Finishing Well by Bob Buford p.73) which blends well into our mentoring topic. This is inspired from distinguished characters in the New Testament.

“Every man needs a Paul, a Barnabas and Timothy in his life. They need an older, wiser man like Paul who doesn’t have all the answers but who has been on the planet longer and can help find the answers.

Everybody needs a peer like Barnabas who can look them in the eye and say –you’re screwing up, so get your act together. Finally, everybody needs Timothy, a younger man they can bring along and help grow.”As an Entrep mentor, my heart is pumping, my mind is thinking! I love what I’m doing and my family is enjoying it. I’ll continue living for as long as some young (mentee) keeps on growing. 

May you all be blessed to find your mentors that will encourage, push and guide you in your quest for business (and most especially your spiritual life)!  

About Dean Pax Lapid 
Dean Pax Lapid is the former Dean of Entrepreneur School of Asia. He is also a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Asian Institute of Management, one of the most prestigious business schools in Asia. He is a prolific entrepreneur, creating one new business a year.

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