You need to have someone to talk through your business issues to help motivate and empower you. Although many entrepreneurs take inspiration from the words of business leaders such as Richard Branson and Peter Jones, nothing really beats sitting down and having a one-to-one with someone who is interested in your business, and has the knowledge and experience to help it grow.
Here are my top tips to finding a good business mentor who can really benefit your business.
Explore your own networks first
Consider family, friends, former bosses or inspiring business contacts that you already know, in the first instance. Pick people whose judgement you admire and respect and approach them with a view to them becoming your business mentor. Make sure you pick people who you trust are going to be honest with you and can give you an external view of your business.
Ask your network for recommendations
You may find that a friend of a friend is in the same sort of business as you and would be a perfect match. Ask the question on social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Twitter to ensure that you spread your search as widely as possible. Explore every avenue in your own network before you start looking further afield.
Mentors dont have to be in the same business as you
Often people look for mentors who have a different skill set and are specialists in areas that they may be weak in e.g. marketing, public relations, finance or HR. Having an experienced mentor with different expertise can really help to give businesses a boost.
Check out Government schemes to see if you qualify for support from a mentor
It is well worth contacting your local Chamber of Commerce to see if they run or keep lists of potential mentors. Schemes such as the Governments Growth Vouchers programme are certainly worth applying for too and can give you support in a few vital key areas such as finance and marketing.
Target people you admire
Think about entrepreneurs that you admire or would love to work with and write to them. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain if they are interested in giving you support along the way. Draw up a hit list of your ideal business mentors and make sure that your letter is personalised to them and explains clearly why they are somebody you would like to work with.
Be clear about your goals
Before you select a mentor, make sure you are clear about what you want to achieve, how a mentor will help you get there and what your expectations are. This holds true for every subsequent meeting you have with your mentor. Be clear what you need from them every time you meet so that you dont waste time.
Dont wait until your business gets into difficulty before looking for a mentor. An entrepreneur who works with a mentor should do so from as early on as possible. A mentor is there as a sounding board and to provide advice to help a business grow. They are not there to issue orders but to help business owners find their own solutions.
The key to any successful mentoring partnership is respect and the ability to get on together. You’ve got to click and you have to be able to have honest conversations about your business with each other. Above all you need to be able to communicate with each other and there needs to be trust and respect on both sides.
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