Mount Everest (topgold)” by Bernard Goldbachflickr.com. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for many years now, and I’m always pumped when asked to share stories of my successes and failures – and honestly, I’ve had my share of both. The single most important factor in all my past and current successes has been finding a mentor – working with someone who can help you connect the what-to-do with the how-to-do-it. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of being supported by some exceptional mentors who have taught me invaluable lessons to build a successful business. While I still have mentors that I meet with regularly, I’m now able to pass on my learnings to other budding entrepreneurs.

A few months ago I was invited to give a lecture to local undergrad and graduate students on entrepreneurship and leadership, and I knew I needed to work in the concept of mentoring. As I was preparing my presentation and trying to find a visual of something dramatic to really illustrate the point, I was drawn to the popularity and complexity of climbing Mount Everest. The mountain is foreboding, beautiful, dangerous, challenging, and for those willing to try an ascent, reaching the top is the epitome of leadership and teamwork. At the core of the adventure is a team, all drawn together for the single purpose of successfully reaching the peak.

But, while you can train for the ascent by climbing smaller mountains, in order to reach the top of Mount Everest you need to rely on someone who has done it before. If you don’t, the lack of specific knowledge and expertise can lead to tempered success, partial derailment, or worse, complete failure. Wise teams know they need to engage a Sherpa – an experienced guide who is specially conditioned and intimately understands how to set a course to ensure the best probability for a team’s success.

The same is true in business. Now if you’re like me, I didn’t realize when I started my first company that I didn’t have all the answers and expertise – it took a complete failure for that to hit home. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case for many excited (and sometimes established) entrepreneurs who don’t realize they need to ask questions or lean on someone for advice and support. The good news is others can learn from my mistakes.

So, during the lecture I talked about the importance of finding a good Sherpa – a mentor to help them find the right path – and how to integrate a Sherpa into their organizations and their leadership teams. The response I received was overwhelming. Not only did the students connect with my story, but every single one of them wanted to know how they could find their Sherpa.

The lesson here – find a Sherpa who knows how to get you from point A to point Z as quickly as possible, and who will help you build your team to make the journey happen.

PeerPoint is full of mentors waiting to help you in building a successful and sustainable business.

So, I have a question for you … do you need a Sherpa?