Every day as a business owner you make decisions that have an impact on your business. Sometimes you are not sure what direction to go in or what option to consider. You could ask your friends and family, but do they really have the wealth of business knowledge that is needed to help guide you to make the right decision? What you really need is a business mentor!
What is a mentor? According the dictionary, a mentor is a trusted counsellor or guide. A business mentor is usually someone who has a great deal of business knowledge and experience.
Where can you find a mentor?
Investigate within your own community for successful entrepreneurs by networking and asking questions. You can search for organizations or clubs within your own community that offer mentorship programs. The Chamber of Commerce is also a good place to look for a mentor. You can find a mentor by reading local business magazines or newspapers. Try posting a note on LinkedIn, or another business-oriented social networking site. Learn more about our Access to Professionals Program.
Benefits of a mentor:
- You can learn from their past successes and mistakes.
- The mentor has experience that is priceless and can save you time.
- They can provide emotional support.
- If you are on a tight budget you will find that most mentors are free.
- You can expand your social network which will give you more visibility.
- With the right mentor you can build a relationship that could become a lifelong friendship.
- A mentor understands what is involved with running a business.
- Mentors can help you develop skills for running a “successful” business.
- Mentors have a great deal of business experience.
What you should consider first:
- What you need in a mentor
- What your goals are in choosing a mentor.
- What characteristics the mentor should possess.
- Whether or not the mentor should be in the same or a different field. If they are in the same field, you need to make sure they are not a direct competitor.
Invite your prospective mentor for coffee and ask for advice. This way you can test the waters. After you have met a few times and you feel very confident about the relationship, you can bring up the subject of mentorship. One of the most important things to consider is whether there is commitment from both sides.
How to structure a Mentor/Mentee relationship:
You need to discuss what your expectations are and also when and how often you should meet. You also want to make the agreement that the arrangement can be ended by either party with no hard feelings.
Building trust does take time and from the very beginning it is important to lay a solid foundation which may even include a contract.
Good mentors can have a big impact on you as an entrepreneur through their support and direction. What are you waiting for? You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!
Let us know if you have a business mentor. How did you develop the relationship and what benefits have you seen?