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What is a Small Business Mentor?

A small business mentor can be invaluable when you're starting out, they can offer you lots of useful guidance based off their experiences and much more.

You will learn

  • What a small business mentor is
  • Some advantages of having a business mentor
  • How to get the most out of your mentor

A small business mentor can be a very valuable asset for growing and running your business. No matter if you have just started your business or you are more established, you can benefit from having someone who can support you every step of the way, providing a wealth of experience and a fresh insight.

So, what is a small business mentor?

Mentoring is accessing the knowledge and previous experience of others. Generally, a mentor for small business it is someone who can provide guidance and support having already been through the process themselves.

A mentor can give direction through complicated business matters as well as motivating you when the going gets tough. They can also act as a sounding board for new ideas, help develop new business skills and introduce you to new contacts who can help drive your business forward.

Alongside this, something we all often lack is focus and accountability. It is easy to get distracted from your aims and objectives and this can then lead to becoming de-motivated and in turn end up in failure. If you have that someone on your shoulder, keeping you focused on your objectives, who you are accountable to, it can make the world of difference.

A mentor can help you see the wood for the trees, they can look objectively from the outside and see if those distractions are happening. A mentor often also runs a successful business themselves so have the type of experience to draw on that can help you transform your business.

Working for yourself can be very isolating. Friends and family, whilst helpful, may not always be truthful and tell you what you want to hear, not necessarily what you need to hear. A mentor for small business can also take you out of your comfort zone, give you the confidence to take calculated risks, but also give that all important reality check if needed. Why not attend a networking event to speak to other people about your ideas and get even more feedback?

Mentors should never proclaim to "know everything", that is unrealistic, but a good mentor will work with you to find out what you need to know.

Statistics show that small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more, which is double the rate of those who do not engage with a mentor.

It is too easy for business owners to get caught up in the day to day tasks involved in running the business and therefore constantly work in the business as opposed to on the business.

What should you look for in a small business mentor?

Ideally, you want a good rapport with your mentor. You want them to be someone you are comfortable with, that you can share not just problems with, but also celebrate success with. A mentor for small business should not just talk about themselves, they should be good listeners, but not someone who will mollycoddle you.

A good mentor will not just agree with you. They will ask you questions that you may find difficult and challenge decisions you made; always with the best of intentions. They will see your true growth potential and set goals accordingly, helping you to identify any barriers, encouraging you along the way.

Respect and trust are vital on both sides when it comes to mentoring.

If you are very new to business, mentoring gives that all important guidance and support to get the basics in place. Empowerment is the word.

The benefit of having a small business mentor

A mentor can help you grow your network and make those vital connections to others who can help. It takes away the isolation of working for yourself. Even the most experienced business owners surround themselves with mentors and advisers, after all, no-one knows everything.

A mentor is also someone you can "let off" steam with, they understand how you feel as they will have been there themselves.

Getting the most out of your mentor

Realise you can learn from others and take on board what they say.

Have regular meetings with your mentor for small business, at least every month, with email or phone contact in between if needed. Ensure there are some goals and objectives set at the meeting so that you can track your progress. The accountability comes at the next meeting ensuring these have been met and if not, what were the obstacles stopping you. Take a look at our tips for having great 1-1 meetings.

These targets are set to motivate you and ensure the business is heading in the right direction, so they should be realistic and achievable.

Mistakes to avoid when working with a mentor for small business

This is simple and should be obvious: turn up for your appointments! Make sure you are on time and that you have worked towards the objectives set. You are both giving up valuable time to have these meetings, so they need to have a return on the investment. This can be both financial and emotional returns increasing not just profit but confidence, keeping you motivated along the way. If you need a little help with your time management, check out out top tips.

So, what’s to stop you from having a mentor and developing your business further?

Are you thinking about starting a business?

Then download this free start-up guide to help give you a solid place to start

Written by:

Heidi Green

Senior Business Adviser

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