The Internet has opened up many avenues for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Ecommerce and online based services provide great opportunities for business start-ups, and, with this being the case, there are more small businesses now than ever.
The sad fact is many of these businesses don’t survive more than 5 years. However, there is hope. Research shows that having a mentor to guide you can be a game changer.
The fact that mentors can help in the growth of a small business is undeniable. According to a 2014 survey, 70% of small businesses that received mentoring services survive more than five years. That is double the success rate of businesses that do not receive mentoring.
In addition, 88% of small business owners say that having a mentor is invaluable in the success of the company.
How can a mentor help your business?
Having a mentor to call upon can help you and your business in several ways, including;
1. Life Experience
You can read all the books you want and get all the education you need, but that’s not going to prepare you for real life situations that may arise. Nothing is tailor made and life is unpredictable.
You can talk to a mentor about any issues you might be facing, adding in any relevant details. He or she will be able to determine a solution based on their real life experiences. You will be able to use their insight to solve problems more efficiently in the future.
2. Network Opportunities
A mentor can give you more than just advice. If you show your mentor you are taking what they’re saying to heart and developing in a positive way, they may have connections that can help you move forward in your career and open up future opportunities.
3. Self Confidence
Self confidence is very important in the business world. It will help you make better decisions and also help you to appear more professional to your customers and competitors.
A mentor will reassure you, helping to build your level of self confidence. They will listen to your concerns and let you know that what your feeling is normal, based on their own professional experience. They will help you to see challenges as an opportunity to grow stronger, and learn valuable life lessons.
4. Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
If you’re in business, it isn’t just about being book smart and understanding finances. Your emotional intelligence will let you know how to react in certain situations, reading other people’s signals and reacting to them appropriately. Having a high EQ is one of the most important characteristics you can have when it comes to being successful in the business world.
It is almost impossible to learn emotional intelligence by reading a book or even through classroom learning, but a mentor can aid you in developing this valuable trait, helping to ensure business success in the future.
A mentor will be there to encourage you. When starting out in the business world, many new entrepreneurs become discouraged and depressed by failure. Some lose the will to go on as a result.
During these times, a mentor can give you the reassurance you need. Every successful business person has experienced failure and their experience can help guide you through difficult times.
Finding a mentor
There are many resources for finding a mentor including a number of web sites that can refer you to one that may be best for you. However, if you think outside the box, there may be other professionals that are suited to a mentor role as well. These include:
Family and Friends
If you have a business savvy friend or relative, he or she could be an ideal mentor for you. No one knows you quite as well as your family and they can be instrumental in the decision making processes of your career.
Accountants can be valuable in setting up the financial side of your business. They can suggest ways to get funding when you’re starting out, and also help you prepare financial proposals and create a budget.
As your business starts to grow, they will be able to determine the financial health of your business and come up with solutions as to how it can improve and increase its profitability. They can also set up your payroll and do your taxes.
Lawyers can make great business mentors. They can help you establish your business structure and put together a business plan. They can also help you with all legal issues your business comes across including registering the business, licensing and making sure your intellectual property is protected.
Further down the line, they can help you with acquisitions if you’re interested in buying a business and aiding with collections if a customer refuses to pay you.
Recruiters can be valuable when you are looking to hire a staff. They can help you put together a job description that will attract the best candidates. They can also be instrumental in the interview process, helping to screen applicants and determining which would be the best fit for your company.
Other Business Owners
Other business owners can also make great mentors. Look for ones that are in the same line of business as you are. They will be able to recommend lawyers, accountants and recruiters who can help you put your business together.
You may think it’s a bad idea to reach out to a competitor, but this is not necessarily the case. Establishing a relationship of friendly competition can be beneficial, providing you with valuable support throughout your career.
If you are looking for another business owner to mentor you, it’s also a good idea to find one in your locality. He or she will have insight on the local economy and be able to tell you what the busiest seasons and the best methods for marketing in the area.
If you are a small business owner, having a mentor can be extremely valuable. They can give you the necessary tools to make your business successful and help it to withstand the test of time. Good luck finding a mentor that is right for you.
About the author
This article has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Maurice Sikking, founder of MentSpot.com, a platform where mentors and mentees can find each other and connect.
More from ByteStart
ByteStart is packed with lots of help and great advice on all aspects of starting and running your own business. Try some of our most popular guides and articles for starters;
- 5 things you must do when you go self employed
- 10 advantages running your business as a limited company has over being a sole trader
- How to set up a limited company
- 10 Do’s and Don’ts of writing a business plan
Leading your business
- ‘The ideal leader’ – Is there such a thing? What are the qualities of great leaders?
- How to be a leader rather than a manager
- Why you must build on your strengths, NOT focus on trying to fix weaknesses
- Becoming the type of leader people want to emulate and do business with
Funding your business
- Asset Finance – A Guide for small business owners
- 6 Things you need to know before launching a crowdfunding campaign for your business
- Revolving credit facility – The short term funding solution every small business owner should know about
- Preparing to raise finance for your business – 6 Steps to success
Growing your business
- 5 steps to kick-starting growth in your business
- The Founder’s dilemma – Managing the transformation from start-up to growth business
- Barriers to growth – how to identify them and how to overcome them
- What you need to ‘master’ to turn your startup into a growth business