Mentors empower entrepreneurs by providing perspective. Effective mentors can help small business owners evaluate ideas and unlock the aspirations they have for the business.
The key is to find someone that can challenge your thinking, share the actions you’ve taken and be flexible about how the relationship evolves.
Why look for business mentors?
Enterprise Nation spoke to several small business owners, who shared their tips on how to find mentors and get the most value out of these relationships.
These business owners approached mentors because they were starting up and wanted guidance. Others had reached a point where they were unsure about what to do next.
The biggest benefit of having a business mentor is having someone you can ask questions and get advice from. As a new business owner, you may have trouble looking at your business through the eyes of a customer, potential investor or government official. Your business mentor, who has dealt with these people often, can help you understand how your business will look to these individuals.
How can you find a business mentor?
It’s worth thinking about the skill set potential mentors have, because it might not need to be a business owner. For example, an operations director might provide brilliant advice for the founder of a food business that’s trying to figure out their supply chain.
There are lots of free support programmes that offer small business owners mentoring, such as Jennings Business Mentors.
South & Vale Business Support also funds several PopUp Business School events which run throughout the year. Our next event will take place in Shrivenham from 7 – 11 October and will provide handy information on how to start-up a business for free and refresh your skills.
Managing your relationship with a mentor
Make sure you keep your mentor updated on your progress. Sharing the impact of the actions you’ve taken is a great way to demonstrate the value of the advice and will make the experience more rewarding.
Having a mentor that will challenge ideas and support the work you’re doing is a great way to build confidence, particularly if you’re the sole owner of the company.
The mentor and mentee should be able to challenge each other too. Entrepreneurs often receive conflicting advice and there will be times when you have to go with your gut. Try asking for a practical example from their background that will help illustrate how an idea has worked in the past if you’re unsure.