Small Business Owners Need Mentors
As a small business owner, there are moments when coming to a decision can ultimately make or break your business, and you need to consult others to get guidance. A mentor can be an invaluable resource. A great mentor is a guide to help navigate the world of business or life in general. The destination may be happiness, success, or self-actualization.
Here are some steps for finding and working with a mentor for your small business venture:
I. SMALL BUSINESS MENTORING ORGANIZATIONS
There’s a great deal of paid and free resources and services to support small business owners, both online and locally:
- SCORE is a nonprofit association of retired executives dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.
- Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) is a membership organization for women presidents of multimillion-dollar companies. The members of the WPO take part in professionally-facilitated peer advisory groups in order to bring the ‘genius out of the group’ and accelerate the growth of their businesses.
- Count Me In Revival (CMI). Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping women grow their businesses and themselves. Through subscription-based coaching and community, women meet challenges and gain knowledge to secure financing and customers.
- The Great Girls Network is a network of amazing women of all ages and from all walks of life who connect with each other on a deeper level.
- Owners Up for Solopreneurs – Solve your biggest challenges by tapping into other smart business owners and business coaches who have helped build million-dollar companies.
- NAWBO NYC – The NAWBO NYC Mentoring Program was created to help women business owners achieve excellent results in their businesses and in their lives. Members have experienced the power and enjoyment of receiving personal support from qualified women business owners to achieve breakthroughs, strengthen business acumen and gain confidence in their leadership skills.
II. TRADE ASSOCIATIONS
Trade Associations exist for nearly every industry and can be valuable sources of information for business owners and those doing industry research. Some trade associations offer continuing professional training and certifications, and many operate mentor/protégé programs that provide guidance to help you build your business. These mentoring programs are often conducted through a combination of formal one-on-one mentoring sessions and group networking and discussion opportunities with fellow protégés.
- Biz Trade Shows boasts the largest directory of trade fairs and business events, delivering an exhaustive coverage of exhibitions, trade shows, and expositions, conferences, and seminars for various industries worldwide.
- The New York Public Library provides small business research tips on trade associations and how to find them according to each industry using their expansive database.
III. UTILIZE YOUR NETWORKS
Who do you know? Is there a previous boss who was very inspiring to you or a friend who is a business owner? Ask that person to be your mentor or share his or her successes and struggles. You have nothing to lose. Just be prepared to share with them why you chose them in particular, your goals and what you are looking for from them. One of the best ways to find a mentor who knows your industry, your community and comes with a great referral is to use your network.
- Accountability Group – you can form your own team of peers to mentor each other. You decide how often you want to meet and hold each other accountable for goals.
If you decide to work with a mentoring organization, ensure there is a formal mentor/protégé structure in place. If you are working with an individual, you will need to work together to establish a mutually beneficial structured relationship.
And, last but not least, be thankful and communicative about the value working with a mentor brings. This is about being in a mutually beneficial relationship, after all.