Why Every Successful Entrepreneur Has a Mentor

By Chong Jinn Xiung

Endeavor Malaysia's Adlin Yusman discusses how great mentors play a critical role in shaping a founder's journey

Tatler Asia
Photo: Getty Images
Cover  Mentors can provide guidance and motivation for mentees as they run their startups (Photo: Getty Images)

It is often said that life as an entrepreneur is lonely. On top of having to worry about profits, access to capital and daily operations, entrepreneurs experience a diversity of challenges in their journey, whether it is talent management or managing their own health.

Some turn to self-help books or podcasts for tips, but many also seek out more seasoned individuals who have taken a similar path and wisdom to share. According to a survey, 92 percent of small business owners found that having a mentor directly impacts the growth and survival of their business.

Adlin Yusman, managing director of Endeavor Malaysia, a non-profit organisation that supports high-impact entrepreneurs, shares that many entrepreneurs don't have the luxury of time to seek out a mentor.

He speaks from experience being a founder himself before Endeavour. But he has always been aware of the benefits of having a trusted advisor who he can turn to in times of uncertainty or difficulty.

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Adlin Yusman, managing director, Endeavor Malaysia
Above  Adlin Yusman, managing director, Endeavor Malaysia (Photo: Endeavor Malaysia)

A good mentor can be a source of unbiased and honest advice, he says, someone who has a wealth of knowledge and experiences to help young entrepreneurs make better decisions.

He also adds that founders don't always know what they don't know. "You have so much on your plate at any moment. I was constantly worrying about cash flow and keeping my business afloat. Naturally, looking for a mentor was the last thing on my mind."

"But you need to look beyond your teammates to validate your ideas and hear an honest opinion from a mentor to set you on the right path." 

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A good mentor gives advice that saves their mentee from years of pain, advice that money can't buy
Adlin Yusman

What makes a good mentor? Adlin says it would be someone who "gives advice that saves their mentee from years of pain, advice that money can't buy".

"Even when a mentor is tearing down your business plans, they are prompting you to consider new ideas and a potentially better way to run things," he says.

The best mentorships, he adds, occur when mentor and mentee have built a good rapport with each other that advice can be sought and given directly and efficiently.

But for founders who are still finding the right mentor, Adlin recommends two books and two TV shows in the meantime: The Cult of We by Eliot Brown and Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton for reading, and Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber and WeCrashed for watching.

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