.You don’t have to start your business alone! One of the best ways to protect yourself against business failure is to find and work with a mentor, someone with business experience who can guide and assist you.
Sometimes, try as you might, there will be moments when you feel you need to get some advice or help with regards to strategies you want to pursue. Especially if you are a one-person business, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the decisions you need to make as a small business owner.
Having someone to guide you, give you counsel, even open doors for you and introduce you to customers and financing resources is literally, heaven-sent. A mentor can sometimes show you a proven roadmap to your business success. Many studies have shown that business owners with mentors to help them showed more growth in their businesses than those who do not have. One caveat though – mentors are different from coaches in as much as mentors generally provide their services and advice for free while coaches charges you by the hour.
The question of course is: How and where can you find mentors to help you? There are several places where you may be able to find a mentor:
- Government Mentoring Programs such as SBDCs, which works with community colleges and local business development councils to offer mentoring programs http://www.sba.gov/sbdc/sbdcnear.html ; or the Women’s Network for Entrepreneurial Training http://www.sba.gov/womeninbusiness/wnet_roundtables.html
- Volunteer programs such as SCORE http://www.score.org which is composed of mostly retired executives and entrepreneurs
- Formal mentoring programs such as Athena Foundation http://www.athenafoundation.org/programs/globallinks.html , Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program http://www.helzbergmentoring.org/HEMP/ , or The Aspen Institute MicroMentor Program http://www.micromentor.org
- Professional organizations such as the National Women’s Business Council http://www.nwbc.gov/Mentoring/programs.html
- Industry and trade associations
- Local business groups, such as the chamber of commerce
- Local chapters of business groups
- Other business owners in your area
- Online networking groups