Everyone needs a little help now and again. For new and small business owners, getting a second opinion from an experienced outside source can give your business a huge lift. Whether you are struggling with your business strategy or looking for personal development as an entrepreneur, finding a business mentor will be a huge step towards succeeding. But, finding a business mentor is more than simply asking for help from those business owners that you admire. You are never going to benefit from a mentor you never get to meet with or who has little to offer you to help your specific problems. Getting the right fit is essential, so you should always follow these steps when finding a business mentor.
1. Narrow Down What You Need
To get the right help and advice, you should have a set of goals in mind that you want help with. These goals will help find the most beneficial relationship when finding a business mentor. A good reference would be your SWOT Analysis. Getting help to compensate for your business’ biggest weakness will direct you to seek out mentors who have worked a lot on that area of business management. You may not get the best help from the most successful business mentor you come across. Do not be blinded by their success. The most important thing to bear in mind is the specialties of those you consider as a mentor.
2. Look Within Your Network
Finding a business mentor need not be a long search. Your best source of advice might be someone you already know. An old boss or a friend may prove to hold a wealth of advice or a differing insight to make a valuable difference to you or your business. By finding a business mentor within your existing circle of connections, you can be more certain of getting time to speak with them. You also don’t have to worry about building up familiarity and trust. The possible problem with staying too close to home is ensuring you are finding a business mentor who will be fully impartial and as critical as you may need from a mentor to find success. Make sure that you choose a mentor that is happy with telling you what you may not want to hear. You will never benefit from a mentor who sugar-coats your problems.
3. Explore Around Your Market
Obviously, another likely source for finding a business mentor will be the market that your business works within. Whilst your direct competitors are clearly unlikely to offer you much support, there may be people willing to help you from your suppliers or from much bigger businesses that do not see your company as a rival. You will need to tread carefully to ensure you don’t suffer from a conflict of interests and to ensure your prospective mentors are not put off. However, the likely insights you will gain from entrepreneurs who have been there and done that will be well worth the work.Similarly, you may have luck finding a business mentor from making enquiries with your business’ existing support network. You may find that your accountant has other clients who could share their experience with you.
4. Test the Waters
Once you have people in mind as a potential mentor, it is time to patiently and carefully build a connection with them. Start by explaining who you are, what you are aiming to do and why you have reached out to them in an email. You should end by asking whether a meeting in the near future would be possible.Make sure you understand that a lot of the people you reach out to will simply not have the time. If you are contacting a more prominent entrepreneur for help, you may end up lost amongst the many others who may be trying the same thing as you. Many business owners will, unfortunately, be too busy to reply or to spend time working with you. If the people who respond seem to be struggling to make time for you or will not be able to meet with you for some time, you should consider seeking an alternative who will more easily be able to meet with you. After all, you are unlikely to learn much from a mentor you never or rarely speak with.
5. Look to Specialist Schemes for Help
If you are still having trouble finding a business mentor, there are groups and schemes that can help put you in touch with the right advice. These groups will consider your needs and your stage of development to direct you to a mentor most likely to advance you and your business. You will then organise a plan and a timeframe for meetings with your mentor based on what you are looking to achieve.You should bear in mind that the groups or mentors you are directed to may charge fees for their services. This may be an obstacle for some but these groups are often more reliable for finding a business mentor as you are sure of a dedicated mentoring service from the contacts you make.By the end of your efforts, you should have established a contact with your ideal business mentor. You should agree on the goals for you or your business, a schedule for meetings that works for both parties and the plan of action if things fail to go as you had hoped. It is then up to you to make sure you make the most of your mentor’s advice.