Are you engaging a mentor as you start and grow your business?

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a conference with our partners from the MentorshipCanadian Youth Business Foundation. Through CYBF’s new mentorship resources, I learned that “Research has shown that 70% of businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more, which is double the rate compared to non-mentored entrepreneurs” (Source: UK – Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative)

Entrepreneurs, while busy, and competitive in their specific industry, want to help others to become successful. Engaging in a mentoring relationship is a great way for a new entrepreneur to learn from someone who has “been there before”. A strong mentor can be your cheerleader, your coach and your sounding board for new ideas and challenges.

In many cases seasoned entrepreneurs and managers are equally excited to become a mentor, as the new entrepreneur is to have an experienced resource to work with. They may be hungry for the excitement of a new venture, and also have a genuine desire to give back to the business community, by helping someone who in now in the place they identify with from years earlier.

A mentoring relationship, unlike a typical consulting relationship, is ongoing over an extended period of time. In addition to specific tactical advice, these relationships often include proactive conversations where the mentor and the entrepreneur talk about possibilities for the future, and discuss changes, good or bad, to the market that may soon impact the business.

There are two major benefits I see while encouraging my Small Business Clients to seek a mentor:

1. Mentors help you to identify and act on new opportunities.

Often entrepreneurs become very emotionally invested in their business idea. This is typically a good thing as that passion drives the daily work, however sometimes one’s clearly defined vision can create blinders to other ways of doing things, new markets, products and services which were not part of the original plan.

2. Mentors help you to see problems on the horizon, and face them before they are too far beyond your control. 

Denying the signs or hoping for the best is never a good way to deal with uncertain futures in a business. Signs of future challenges can also be missed simply because the owner is too busy with and close to the daily operations of the business. As with most things in life, identifying a problem early is a key to finding a solution before it is too late.

We often think of mentors as the business veterans delivering on teachable moments, but there are best practices and specific skills that strong mentors can learn. If you are acting in the mentor role now, or see yourself as a potential mentor in the future, I recommend checking out the crash courses for mentorship on

And as always, if you want to talk more about your business, call or email us to book a free consultation. One of the goals of the Centre is to empower small and medium-sized enterprises and give you the tools to achieve success. For more information about Halton Region Small Business Centre resources, services, business events and seminars, contact us by dialing 311, 1-866-442-5866, online at, or visit us at 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville. You can also follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook.

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