Business is full of ups and downs. Navigating them is easier with the help of an experienced mentor. Learn how to find a business mentor to help your venture—and your confidence—soar to new heights.
Why You Need a Business Mentor
Many business owners forgo mentorship due to pride or the fear of asking for help. This may stem from the false notion that capable business leaders don’t rely on others. In truth, even prominent entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates had mentors who instilled in them the confidence and know-how to succeed.
You don’t have to be running a Fortune 10 business to get a mentor. If you run a small business, a mentor can assist you in:
- Brainstorming ideas for a new venture
- Researching ways to launch or finance the venture
- Expanding your business staff
- Streamlining your operations
- Gaining a renewed sense of motivation or inspiration
- Making a critical decision like whether to sell your business.
Basically, your business mentor can help in a variety of ways. Ideally, this is someone’s who’s been through the ringer before. A mentor can offer tips to help you avoid unnecessary mistakes.
Where to Find a Business Mentor
Once you determine you need a business mentor, you can easily find one of your own. Start with Uncle Sam. Many government-sponsored mentor organizations offer free or low-cost support services to small business owners:
- SCORE Mentors
- Small Business Development Centers
- Women’s Business Centers
- Veteran’s Business Outreach Centers
- Minority Business Development Agency
If you’re looking for one-on-one or group mentorship, consider connecting with a trade association through your SBA district office. These organizations often represent diverse industries and professionals. This increases the odds that you will find a mentor well-versed in your business niche.
Do you plan to sell products or services to the government for your business? Consult the General Services Administration or Small Business Administration for specialized mentor programs for government contractors.
The trust factor cannot be overlooked when seeking a business mentor. After all, if you can’t trust your mentor, you are less likely to confide in or accept the advice given by him or her. This can lead to the demise of the mentorship or your venture. This is why tapping your own existing network is one of the best ways to find a business mentor. A friend, family member or trusted confidant may have just the viewpoint you need to thrive.
How to Work with a Business Mentor
You can’t expect a business mentor to wave a wand and resolve all your business dilemmas. To build a successful relationship, you need to set realistic expectations. That means setting a clear goal for the mentorship. Once you decide on a goal, establish regular mentoring sessions that fit both your schedules. This will allow you to track your progress as the mentorship progresses.
Even as you meet regularly with your mentor, understand that a mentor is not a business partner. Avoid putting undue obligations on your mentor in making day-to-day business decisions. If you need an increased level of support your mentor cannot provide, consult your mentor on whether you need a business partner.
MileIQ’s blog does not constitute professional tax advice. You should contact your own tax professional to discuss your situation.