Any small business owner who is starting out could use some helpful advice.
Sure, most entrepreneurs have a fierce independent streak where they want to get everything done by themselves. But that’s almost impossible.
Every entrepreneur can hit a wall when they’re trying to get their business off the ground. At that point, it could be helpful to seek help from a business mentor. They can not only offer up helpful advice but can lend some encouragement when it’s needed.
SCORE Survey Proves Importance
Experience shows that connecting a start-up business owner with a mentor can change things for the better.
According to a 2018 survey from SCORE – the nation’s largest network of volunteer business mentors – mentored businesses were 12 percent more likely to remain in business after one year, compared to the national average.
“This supports existing research that shows entrepreneurs with access to a mentor are five times more likely to start a business than those who do not have a mentor,” SCORE wrote.
SCORE also found that working with a mentor greatly increases a small business owner’s likelihood of success.
Even a single interaction with a mentor can yield positive results. In the same survey, 30 percent of business owners reported business growth after just one interaction with a mentor. The rate of success increased with continued interactions and peaked at 43 percent of business owners who had five or more mentoring interactions.
Mentors provide helpful advice in many areas, from applying for licensing to finding financing.
A mentor can help you avoid common pitfalls that they’ve come across through their real-life experiences. Even better, a mentor relationship can provide a lifetime of helpful advice.
If you don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off, you might start talking to yourself. Being around experienced entrepreneurs gives you honest and practical feedback on your ideas, helping you reach your goals.
The Positives Of A Mentor Relationship
New business owners may have trouble seeing their business through the eyes of a customer. A business mentor, experienced both as a customer and business owner, can help you understand how to increase your attractiveness and value to customers. Business mentors also can advise on managing staff and building a positive work environment.
When a mentor relationship clicks, a lifelong friendship forms, which is the basis for future collaboration. This provides consistency and resources to successfully run your business.
The mentor also benefits from this relationship. By helping others improve their business skills, mentors are improving their own skills in the process. They can be inspired with a new idea and meet new contacts along the way.
How Do You Find A Mentor?
Quality mentors aren’t just hanging around waiting for your phone call. Here are ways to help you find a contact who could become a mentor:
1. Show Your Value – Before you start looking, make sure that your resume is updated and your social media presence is a solid one, especially on LinkedIn. Create a plan when approaching the mentor and share your vision and goals.
2. Find Old Connections – Old co-workers are always a great option. If you have an established relationship, a mentorship can naturally come afterward. They already understand work ethic and dreams, but just make sure you’re not directly competing against one another.
3. Network, Network, Network – Get to know people at a networking event, like a Chamber of Commerce meeting. By putting yourself out there, you’ll show others in the small business world that your business is a worthy investment of their time.
Easy Resources To Find
The Small Business Administration has experienced mentors that can provide meaningful advice, and at no cost.
The SBA is committed to helping start-ups find help.
The SBA works with SCORE, small business development centers, women’s business centers and veteran business outreach centers to help counsel, mentor, and train entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Here is a breakdown of how the SBA works with these organizations:
Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) are part of a nationwide network that provides business training, counseling and other resources to help women start and grow successful businesses. Tied closely to the SBA, WBCs are also able to advise women about business financing such as SBA loan programs. If you are interested in selling to the U.S. government, WBCs can also provide guidance and training resources to help you get started and navigate the process.
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) help entrepreneurs realize their dream of business ownership, and SBDC counselors can help businesses remain competitive in an ever-changing global economy. Business owners can access free one-on-one counseling and low-cost training. Some of the counseling and training topics available include marketing, regulatory compliance, technology development and international trade.
SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer business mentors. These business executives share real-world knowledge at no cost and fit your busy schedule. SCORE mentors are available as often as you need in person, via email or over video chat. There are 348 SCORE chapters in urban, suburban and rural communities across the country.
Veterans Business Outreach Centers provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard & Reserve members and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business.
A financial institution, like Stearns Bank, can also put you in touch with a mentor if you work with your lender to start a relationship. Don’t be afraid to ask your lender if they know anyone who you can start mentor communication with.