Advice and support can be just as important as funding in the early stages of starting up in business, which is why a good mentor is worth his or her weight in GOLD..!
They are sounding boards, voices of reason, and fonts of knowledge; all rolled into one, and can be a lifeline for those new to running their own business.
Richard Branson a legend and an inspiration for entrepreneurs and life adventurers alike, but I am particularly fascinated by the help he received to launch Virgin Atlantic in 1984 - one of his highest profile businesses.
His mentor was legendary airline entrepreneur Sir Freddie Laker, a man he had always admired, but who became a source of practical help and inspiration during the early days of Virgin Atlantic.
“Drawing on his experiences with his own airline, Laker Airways, his advice on how to set up the company was invaluable, he helped shape our vision for high quality service at competitive prices, and was the first to bring my attention to how fiercely we would have to battle with other airlines to make a success of our airline. It's always good to have a helping hand at the start. I wouldn't have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker. Now, I love mentoring young entrepreneurs.” - Branson
As American author and businessman Zig Ziglar said: "A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could." "Find a mentor."
Freddie Laker was one of Britain’s highest profile entrepreneurs in the 1960’s and 1970’s and was regarded as one of Margret Thatcher’s ‘Golden Boys of Industry’ along with Clive Sinclair and Alan Sugar.
At this time, Laker launched the ‘Skytrain’ service under his own airline, Laker Airways. He is regarded as the founder of the low-cost airline model - also mentoring Stelios Haji-Ioannou when his EasyJet business was the subject of British Airways bullying tactics. He was only able to add this value after going through a similar situation with BA when starting his own airline.
Virgin’s fledgling airline also lacked the big budgets of its larger competitors, and it was Laker who encouraged Branson to become the face of the company, and drive his own publicity for free.
When Laker mentored Branson, he helped the Virgin chairman establish a vision for a high-value, low-cost airline and passed on the knowledge of what it would take to build and establish an airline in a very cut-throat industry.
Laker also brought a sense of fun and humour to the business in much the same way as Branson himself is now known for and he earnt so much appreciation from Branson and the Virgin team, that the Boeing 747-123 is named: 'Spirt of Sir Freddie'.
Through the mentorship that Branson received from Laker and others, he could overcome any obstacle in his path. In fact it is not unfair to say that it is only because he received mentorship, that he was able to overcome bigger and bigger obstacles.
Legends are not legendary straight out of the box! They earn it by asking for help, making mistakes and learning from them, so they know what help to ask for next time.
What is truly fascinating is how every legend always has a mentor behind them, and my next question is; 'So who was Freddie Laker's mentor?' I don't know who he or she was yet, but I guarantee that there would have been key people in Laker's life who helped him to become one of the most progressive and pioneering entrepreneurs of the 1970's.
“'Use yourself. Make a fool of yourself. Otherwise you won’t survive’. That piece of advice influenced my entire approach to business,"
Richard says. "I took his advice on board and have been thinking up fun ways to stand out from the crowd ever since. I’ve found by standing out in fun and different ways, your chances of ending up on the front page of the newspaper, rather than the back, are much higher.”
Here's a question for you to share in the comments below. If you could be mentored by anyone - past or present - who would it be and what would you ask for their advice on?
Image Source: Google
Content Source: www.forbes.com; www.legends.report