Idea Box: Need a Mentor, But Arenít Sure Where to Find One?
Practical Advice on How to Choose a Business Mentor
Date Posted: 12/3/2018
According to a survey released a few years ago, small businesses whose owners sought out mentoring from other successful business owners were twice as likely to succeed in the first five years than those who didn’t seek the advice of mentors.
This certainly makes for a pretty strong argument for using a business mentor, especially if your business is new, but also if your business is struggling or facing a lot of challenges right now. A mentor can even be a good idea when your business is thriving to help you push it to the next level.
A business mentor can help you in many ways including: providing you with answers to important questions you may have so you can make sound decisions, helping you brainstorm ideas or providing you some new ones, and inspiring and encouraging you to do well.
If you’re thinking about finding a mentor, but aren’t sure where to begin your search, here are five places to look to find the right one:
1. Entrepreneur magazine recommends beginning your search for a mentor right in your own group of peers and colleagues. If you have a friend or acquaintance who is a successful business owner, especially if they’re in a similar industry, it makes perfect sense to see whether they’d be willing to serve as your mentor. Also, consider your current colleagues, who may have more business experience than you do or have been successful business owners in the past.
2. When Bplans, which offers online business plans, asked successful entrepreneurs where they found their mentors and what they’d recommend to others, one recommendation was to take advantage of your college connections if you went to college. Most universities have alumni networks and some even have mentorship programs, and you might even consider a former professor.
3. The pages of Pallet Enterprise features many successful companies. If you read about someone who has done something that you would like to do, look them up and give that person a call. Are you thinking about a new piece of equipment or expanding into a new area? You can search www.palletenterprise.com for more information and somebody to contact who has been through your current situation.
4. SCORE, a non-profit resource partner for the U.S. Small Business Administration will match you with a business mentor for free. Just visit their website to get started at https://www.score.org/find-mentor.
5. Area networking groups or trade associations like the Western Pallet Association and the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association are also good places to look for mentors. In the latter, you may be able to seek out a mentor that is not a competitor, but has expertise in your same industry. If you don’t belong to any such groups, now is a great time to join, begin networking and meet other business owners like yourself.
6. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) across the U.S. not only provide business owners with low-cost training services, but have business advisors that work in partnership with universities, economic development professionals, chambers of commerce and others. Contact your closest Small Business Development Center to see if they can assist you in finding a mentor.
When choosing a mentor, look for someone who is enthusiastic about helping you, and ideally, someone who also shares your world view and general values. Also, look for a person who you consider to be a good communicator.
Once you’ve found the right mentor, always remember to show your appreciation for their assistance. And as with any kind of relationship, the best mentoring relationships are usually two-way streets, with both parties contributing something and both getting something in return.
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