By Susan Guillory

I think solopreneurs have a tendency to try to do everything on their own when, in fact, they shouldn’t. Having help and guidance can in fact make you a better business owner. Having a mentor is part of that equation. Here’s why you need one stat.

1. You can learn from their experiences.

I know; you’re perfect, and no one can teach you anything new. But imagine having a mentor who has decades of experience in your field. Are you sure you couldn’t learn maybe a little something from him?

Don’t consider mentors bossy know-it-alls who want to tell you how to run your business; consider them people who can share their experience with you — as well as their mistakes — and help guide you to making smarter decisions as a result.

How to maximize your mentor time: Once you’ve found your mentor and are meeting with him regularly, be generous with your questions. Ask what lessons he’s learned, mistakes he’s made, or things he wish he knew when he was where you are.

2. Having someone to bounce ideas off of keeps you from making mistakes.

You woke up in the middle of the night with a killer idea. At least it seemed killer when you were half asleep. Now you’re not so sure. The best way to find out if an idea has longevity is to run it by your resident mentor. He’ll be honest with you if it’s not a great idea, and he can help you develop it if it is.

Solopreneurs have a tendency to get lost in their own heads, and sometimes we can’t see a bad idea for what it is. Having a mentor to discuss ideas with is really to keep you from doing something stupid.

How to maximize your mentor time: Be okay with constructive criticism. Your mentor won’t tell you an idea sucks to be mean; he’s just trying to keep you from making a costly mistake by developing it.

3. He can expand your network.

If your mentor has been in your industry for a while, chances are his contact list is pretty long. He may instantly have someone you have to meet when you mention you’re looking for help with something specific, or he may want to introduce you to people you can partner with or sell to.

How to maximize your mentor time: While you don’t want to push to get access to his red-carpet list, do make it clear that you would appreciate any connections he can make for you. And respond in kind; if he’s looking for a roofer, for example, and you know a great one, don’t hesitate to make that connection.

Having a mentor is having one more person on your team who is vested in the success of you and your business.

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