Well said. This is a very realistic description of how challenging it is to make a living from photography when you are just starting.
I only wish that the problem existed just at the 'start' of a photographic career!
My observation of life as a photographer has been that most of us get, if we are lucky, a span of perhaps ten years when we are 'hot' and during which time-space we have the chance to earn out crust of bread and also a little cake. After that, we seem to begin a slow decline in popularity with clients - we are too familiar to them; we become unexciting; we no longer manage to kiss ass as nicely as they might like.
On top of that, the very people upon whose goodwill we depend come into problems of their own: they, too, start to find themselves marginalised by newer art directors within the same agency; if not agency employees but perhaps company owners/directors or whatever, their companies too begin to suffer from cyclical problems of profitability and money for advertising, calendars and such peripheral expenditures shrinks faster than some parts of the body when riding a bicycle on a frosty morning. In other words, it is an unavoidable fact that for many companies photography is not a first necessity and as suppliers, we suffer early during any industry turn-down.
Fun, isn't it?
Anyway, going back to the original poster's question about mentors - why would somebody want to put a lot of time and money into backing another person unless there was a guaranteed return on all the investment? Look at some of the 'stars' of the gallery circuit and ask yourself how and why they got backing - there might well be some shocking personal prices that have been paid for that help in some cases - Faustus was more than just an idea... On the other hand, if you are prepared to do absolutely anything, then I'm sure some rich gentleman will be more than willing to offer help.
I mentioned stock earlier on in my first post on this topic: not only did it never make itself self-financing and profitable for me on the breakdown, but on trying to explain the mechanics of the industry to several very successful business friends - I mean friends of many years standing - they independently went gaga when I explained that, at best, you took 100% of the financial risk in return for 50% of the 'possible' reward...
Ciao - Rob C