The survivability of a business often depends on finding help from someone who is more experienced than you are. About half of all new businesses started this year will have closed within the next five years and many more within the following five years. Business mentors are readily available – often for free – but you need to know where to look.
Even with a great idea and great people helping you, your business could still struggle for years without the right guidance. Sometimes, even a single misstep could lead to having to close your doors for good. On the other hand, a mentor can show you things about growing your business that you would never have thought of otherwise. Because of their experience, they can also provide you with support and motivation and help to expand your network.
Before You Look for a Mentor
After you decide you will look for a mentor for your business, you need to ask some questions first. You could ask many questions, but you first need to decide what you hope to gain from getting a mentor. Then decide what role the mentor should take in your relationship and how much time you can give to the mentor – and vice versa. Meeting regularly and being accountable will enable you to get the most out of the relationship.
Benefits of Choosing a Business Mentor
Although it may not be appreciated at first, a mentor can discover weaknesses that you may not even be aware of and tell you how to overcome or compensate for them. This can help give you considerable professional and personal growth. A mentor can also show you what things will not work and show you what will produce the results you want.
Another benefit is that a mentor can introduce you to other people and expand your network. They know a lot of people who can also help you grow or expand your business.
Paying or Not Paying a Mentor?
There are two sides to the issue of whether or not you should pay a mentor. A good mentor knows their worth and can help your business. Many of them do not want pay and are glad to help as a volunteer. A free mentor may have questionable value but they could be real experts just wanting to help someone else. You will need to make the decision and talk to your potential mentor about what he or she prefers – and based on what you can afford.
There are several types of mentors available to help your business. You can get online mentors, mentoring software, and personal mentors that will meet with you. Online mentors can communicate with you through emails or video chat, and you can meet with one or more.
The Small Business Administration (SBA.gov) offers help for small businesses in several forms to start, grow, or expand your business and can give you free or low-cost counsel. In addition to providing loans to small businesses, the SBA offers the following mentoring programs:
- The Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
- SCORE – volunteers that can offer help in 62 different industries. It has 10,000 volunteer business experts and many local chapters.
- The Women’s Business Center.
- The Veteran’s Business Outreach Center.
Other Mentoring Organizations
Other organizations that offer free business mentoring are plentiful. They include:
- MicroMentor – a free online service to help your business grow faster. It is an international organization.
- TiE Global – a fee is required, but it has many executives and senior professionals in it.
- Apps –
- Chronus – provides mentoring help for the biggest corporations and Fortune 50 companies.
- Mentornity – an all-in-one solution to provide mentoring and coaching programs.
If your business is struggling, or you just want to grow faster, contact one of the above business mentoring agencies and get started soon. The services are free and you have nothing to lose and better success to gain.