Why Small Business Owners Should Loan Time to Finding a Mentor (and how to find one)
Whether you have successfully bootstrapped your business to the point of wanting to expand, are just starting to develop your products from home and are making your first sales while maintaining a full time job, or are about to turn your business into a franchise, the value of a mentor cannot be understated for small business owners willing to loan an ear to a trustworthy business veteran. Approaching a small business from an egocentric perspective and rejecting guidance and advice may not hurt your business, but it is possible that you are missing out on advice and perspective that you could use to accelerate your growth and make fewer mistakes. The hardest part about a mentor relationship is creating one in the first place. Finding an industry veteran who is willing to spend time giving you advice and coaching can be tough, and anyone who you would want as a mentor you should be able to trust completely. Naturally his means that finding a qualified mentor can take time and effort, but like many difficult things, the payoff is worth the time put in. In fact, the process of finding a guru to loan your ear to can be beneficial in its own right. Here’s a game plan for giving yourself the gift of guidance.
Look for a mentor within your community. The most logical place that business owners should start to look for guidance is in their own neighborhoods. Many areas will have business development centers or meet up events that will attract entrepreneurs both established and starting out. Business owners can use these events as a place to not only promote their own business and forge useful partnerships, but a great source of advice and a source of potential guides as well. Getting involved in your community and the development of the small businesses within it is a strong move that will both increase your visibility and your business acumen, all while moving toward your goal of creating constructive partnerships.
Look for a mentor through your established connections. Finding a mentor can also be achieved by reaching out to your established connections and making your desire known. If you never ask, you’ll never know just how far your connections an get you. The process of reaching out to those you know can reaffirm the connections you already have and if your search does yield some new partners, so much the better.
Look for a mentor through social media. Social media is a tool that small business owners should already be loaning time to developing. Using it as another tool in the quest to find guidance is just an added benefit of growing out a social network. Using services like LinkedIn and Twitter, finding good advice is made easier because you can identify who is posting expert content on your industry by simply searching for it. Once you have found people who you respect, asking them to connect or for a piece of advice can help you initiate a relationship that can be constructive for you and gratifying for them, as many professionals will relish the chance to give others the advice they wish that they had been given.
Photo Credit to Brian Smithson on Flickr