Why Peers Are The Best Mentors

5 min read | by Maxim Zavadskiy 
Growth Club Peers Are the Best Mentors

Having a mentor or an advisor for your startup is considered hot nowadays. For an obvious reason - a mentor is supposed to know more than you in a certain area and give relevant advice that you can apply in your business. However, peer support doesn’t get as much attention or importance. Somehow it is considered that startup founders will organically get surrounded with the right peer support, or that peer support is not at all useful for your startup. I will explain in this article why having quality peer support is as important as having a good mentor, and will be bold enough to say, that in certain cases peer support is actually a better choice.

What peer support means for a startup founder

I would define peer support for a founder as a network of other founders that you keep in touch with and some sort of a system that facilitates regular meetings. There is a sense of community, belonging that glues you together. A peer network that can provide support doesn’t just happen on its own, you have to be proactive to find it or build it. Also, I would say that just having a large network of peers that you don’t meet regularly cannot be considered quality peer support.

What I could consider as quality peer support systems are mastermind groups, some online startup communities, accelerators, startup friends you have that you meet regularly, or specialized peer support platforms.

What is particularly good about peer support?

Lab of growth hacks

Your peers, just like you are probably trying a bunch of different growth hacks, methods, and so on, to see what will work in their startup. Consider this as a lab of growth hacks - you and your peers together are simultaneously running tens of experiments at any moment. And if you communicate often enough, you can adopt the latest growth hacks and ideas that just worked for your peers. It is so much easier to learn something from a direct experience than from a book. This constant experimentation and exchange of knowledge create an efficient innovation machine.

Different perspectives

Everyone who has launched a product and tried to grow it knows that there is no silver bullet for startups. Especially in the early stages, all you need is to have constant feedback on your efforts that fuel constant iterations. A mentor will soon become part of your startup and won’t be able to spot caveats as good as a network of peers would do. Imagine, you have 10 fellow founders in your peer network. That is 10 different unique perspectives on how to do business and potentially 10 different view-points on your startup. I’d argue that these 10 founders can give quite a bit more rich feedback than a mentor would do.

Execution boost

Often the advice you need is “just go and start doing it”. We like to slack off, don’t we? The best cure for that is to see how hard others work. When your friends say how he did 100 cold calls last week, while you did only 10, how will you feel? You will be motivated to catch up. This peer pressure is giving a good post to your current efforts.

Phycological support

Peers are people just like you, in the same situation as you. Some physiological aspects of humans make our tough moments less tough when you know you are not the only one suffering. In tough moments you can relate to your peers much more than to say, a mentor. Even though you may not be co-founders with your peers, you feel you are one big team in some sense.

Your source of co-founders

You never know when you will jump on a new venture (e.g. after the previous startup will fail, like 9 out of 10 does) and realize that you need a co-founder. Or maybe you need a co-founder already now! 

Your peers will be obviously the primary source for potential co-founders - you hopefully know each other for some time and worked lightly together by meeting and helping one another with advice and feedback. You have built that trust and bond by helping each other. You know what they are good at - they probably gave you some advice and it worked out for you. And you also know what they are currently up to - are they considering starting a new venture, becoming a hands-on advisor, or joining a startup.

In sum

Quality peer support network is valuable for startup founders as it provides for you a lab of growth hacks, different perspectives on your business, execution boost, phycological support and a source of possible co-founders. To have effective peer support you need a good bunch of like-minded founders and a system that facilitates regular interactions with them. Investing in building a quality peer support network can be better for your startup than spending too much time looking for a mentor, as peers provide you with just-tested growth hacks and give you different perspectives on your business. Using online peer support platforms you can get quality peer support from day 1, and we have built one as well - GrowthClub, which is a video-call-based startup community for early-stage founders.

Originally Published by Maxim Zavadskiy on Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 15:00 | Updated On Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 16:12

© 2020 All rights reserved.