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Use a Business Mentor to Plan for 2013
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Use a Business Mentor to Plan for 2013
Now that 2012 is wrapping up, we have the opportunity to take a breath, evaluate where the year has taken us in relation to our business goals and create a game plan for how we will move forward towards success in the new year. A business mentor may just be the perfect means to helping you create that plan. A study by the U.S. Small Business Administration, SBA ED Resources 10-11 Impact Study Final Report, found that small business clients who had received 3 or more hours of mentoring reported higher revenues and increased business growths. Whether you are already in business or looking to start one during the next calendar year, a mentor can help guide your business by providing an outside, unbiased perspective that will keep you on track towards your goals or, perhaps, offer new ideas you had not yet considered.
Planning for Your New Business Idea
If you have a great business concept—or even just a general idea of the kind of work you would like to be doing for yourself—a mentor can assist in hammering out the details of how to bring your ideas to fruition. If you have not yet created a business plan, a mentor can walk you through the process of doing so, bringing to the table years of real world business experience and having helped numerous other entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground as well.
If you are not sure exactly what shape your business will take, the process of creating financial projections like pro forma income statements and profit and loss statements will give you insight into the results of several different scenarios before taking the financial and personal plunge. These financial statements can seem daunting to the uninitiated, but with a mentor with financial expertise at your side, you will be able to navigate them with ease. Having a clear picture of the financial potential of your business concept will let you know if it truly is feasible or needs to be further refined in 2013.
Planning for Your Current Enterprise
For current business operators, a mentor can help evaluate the current state of your business and make sure it is on track towards your goals. If you have not yet created a business plan for your enterprise, a mentor can guide you through doing so. If you have drafted a complete business plan, they can help you evaluate how you have met your objectives and revise the plan according to changes in the business, the business landscape or your goals.
No matter what the business topic, a mentor has likely encountered the same scenario or is able to refer you to someone else who has. Mentors are unique in that they have specific expertise from their own experiences in the business world, but also a wealth of general business knowledge from helping others start and grow their ventures. Some topics and questions a mentor can help you think through in planning for 2013 are:
Marketing: How effective is my current marketing plan? Are these efforts on track with my goals
New Offerings & Directions: Where does my business stand in relationship to my competitors? What opportunities exist for me to expand or take the business in new and profitable directions?
Technology: Are my employees equipped with the right technology for the activities and goals I want to accomplish?
Budget & Cash Flow: Does my budget match with the initiatives I have set out for next year? Will I have sufficient cash flow to carry me throughout 2013?
A Sounding Board
One of the greatest benefits a mentor can offer your business is simply a wise ear. We hear time and again from SCORE clients that the greatest function their mentor serves is as a sounding board: someone to bounce ideas off of, rehearse their elevator pitches with and be reassured that they are on the right path. A mentor also makes a fantastic addition to your business team because they offer an outside, unbiased perspective that can spot obvious fixes or opportunities you may be too entrenched to see and supply fresh ideas to solve nagging problems. Cassie Green, owner of Green Grocer Chicago, spoke of her mentor saying, “It’s great to get a perspective from someone who doesn’t have a personal interest in the business. They are totally objective and just want you to succeed.”
Entrepreneurship can certainly seem like a lonely road at times. But working with a mentor to plan out a map that will help guide you along that road can make it a little easier.
About the Author:
Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the SCORE Association. She is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services. She collaborates with SCORE volunteers and develops SCORE’s online marketing strategy.