3 Famous Billionaire Entrepreneurs and Their Mentors

Did you know that many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs have had mentors? This guidance and support helps business owners navigate challenges, network effectively, see different perspectives, and more.

According to Richard Branson, many entrepreneurs don’t get mentors because they feel it’s a sign of weakness, but this is a big misconception. Having a mentor shows you’re willing to learn, open to different ideas, and adaptable to change. If you’re considering reaching out for guidance, here are a few entrepreneurs who credit much of their success to their mentors to inspire you.

1. Mark Zuckerberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Facebook

“A small amount of time invested on your part to share your expertise can open up a new world for someone else.” – Mark Zuckerberg

How did the Harvard graduate create a lucrative company that has transformed the world? In this 2011 interview with Charlie Rose, Zuckerberg touched on the immense impact his mentor, Steve Jobs, had on his career. “He was amazing,” Zuckerberg said, “I had a lot of questions for him.” He explained how Jobs advised him on how to keep an organization focused on his overarching goal of building “high-quality and good things.”

They both believed that their life paths were meant for more than just building a business. They wanted to change people’s lives. In a final farewell Facebook post dedicated to Jobs, Zuckerberg wrote, “Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world.”

2. Bill Gates, Founder and Technology Advisor of Microsoft

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates

The Harvard drop-out credits part of his success to his mentor, businessman, and investor, Warren Buffet. In an interview with CNBC, Gates credits Buffet with teaching him how to deal with challenging situations and to think long-term. He admires Buffet’s “desire to teach complex things” and put them in a form “so that people can understand and benefit from all his experience.”

Buffet has also taught him a lot about the importance of friendship and how these strong and meaningful relationships are vital to success. “You will move in the direction of the people you associate with,” Buffet says. This shows that having a mentor is beneficial not only in a business sense but also on a personal development level.

3. Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group

“If you ask any successful businessperson, they will always (say they) have had a great mentor at some point along the road.” – Richard Branson

Richard Branson asked British airline entrepreneur Sir Freddie Laker for guidance while struggling to get Virgin Atlantic off the ground. Branson wrote in British newspaper, The Sun, “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.”

Branson believes the first step in finding a great mentor is admitting you can benefit from one. “Understandably, there’s a lot of ego, nervous energy and parental pride involved, especially with one- or two-person start-ups…Going it alone is an admirable, but foolhardy and highly flawed approach to taking on the world,” he said.

The Value of Perspective

An experienced mentor can be extremely valuable to your business’s success and your personal development. Whether your mentorship lasts for just a year or is ongoing throughout your business journey, it will empower you and increase your chances of success. So, if you want to become BC’s next Zuckerberg, Gates, or Branson, find a mentorship program that works for you.

How Small Business BC Can Help Your Business

SBBC is a non-profit resource centre for BC-based small businesses. Whatever your idea of success is, we’re here to provide holistic support and resources at every step of the journey. Check out our range of business webinars, on-demand E-Learning Education, our Talk to an Expert Advisories, or browse our business articles.