As a young entrepreneur, you may be looking for advice or guidance as you consider starting your own business. A great place to turn? A mentor.
And January is National Mentoring Month. Every year, this month highlights the positive role that mentors have in helping shape the success of young people – from the classroom to the working world. Read on for more about why and how to get started with a mentor.
Why should I have a mentor?
According to the Startup Genome Report, statistics show that entrepreneurs and startups are more likely to succeed with the help of an effective mentor. That may not come as a surprise – a mentor brings with him or her a wealth of knowledge, experience and insight that you won’t find anywhere else.
- An insider perspective
Aside from the “been there, done that” know-how a mentor can pass along, consulting with one can be a great way to gain a fresh perspective and broaden your outlook. Especially if you’ve been developing your ideas solo, having a sounding board in a business mentor can offer a sanity check or an outlet to help focus your ideas.
- A sophisticated skillset
If you feel that you’re struggling with a particular task as you’re trying to start your business, a mentor can help. From accounting to technology, many mentors have a particular area of advanced skills. So as you gain high-level industry insight, you can also further your technical abilities essential to your future business.
- A vast network
With years of experience, a mentor likely has an enviable network of industry connections. The importance of networking can’t be understated, so expanding your network with the help of a mentor can be a great way to meet potential partners, customers and decision-makers in your target market. A personal introduction can strengthen that new tie when compared to meeting someone randomly at an event.
How can I find a mentor?
Sponsored by SBA, SCORE is a nonprofit network of retired business executives, leaders and volunteers who provide free and confidential counseling, mentoring and advice. It has more than 358 chapters with 13,000 + volunteers who share their expertise through in-person and online mentoring.
SCORE counselors often have a specific area of expertise for all stages of business. While your primary counselor will be your main point of contact, he or she can help identify and introduce you to other specialists – from accounting and marketing to management and technology.
In addition, the SCORE website is chockfull of great resources, including how-to guides and tools, online workshops and more. You’ll also find a listing of its local branches that operate in-person workshops.
- Small Business Development Centers
Also sponsored by the SBA, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are partnerships primarily between the government and colleges or universities that provide educational services to small business owners and entrepreneurs at any stage of the business process. They offer technical assistance through confidential one-on-one counseling, training seminars, assistance with SBA loans, business plan guidance and more.
Find your nearest SBDC.
So if you’re getting started with ideas to start your own business and are looking for some guidance, consider reaching out to a business mentor to help you succeed.