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- On December 30, 2016
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One of the perks of having a small business or starting one up – is having a mentor. A mentor is usually an expert in your field who can help you navigate your industry; help you with contacts and be a sounding-board for you as you begin your business. When we started National Business Helpers, we had a strong network of experienced small business lending experts that guided us on our way to success.
That said, it is important to recognize what makes a good mentor. According to the experts at Smallbiztrends.com, finding a good mentor is a combination of many factors including the following:
- Understands My Industry: Part of a mentor’s job is to help you navigate your field – the industry in which you wish to start a new career and business. You want someone to provide you with background of your industry, as well as help you identify and address any challenges in the business space. A good mentor knows the ins and outs of your specific industry. “…[I]f you’re a tech entrepreneur, you might not get the most out of your mentor if you choose someone who is successful in the restaurant business,” according to small business experts.
- Has a Proven Track Record: Ideally, you want a mentor who knows your chosen industry as well as has success in that field. This is a person who can offer “real-world” advice who can help you become a success. Experts agree that “the main goal of choosing a business mentor should be to help further your business goals.”
- A Mentor Should be a Good Listener with Time: You should find a mentor who is not just proficient in talking, but also listening. This means someone who can “hear” your questions and help you address your specific challenges. In addition, this mentor must be able to offer you his or her time. Every business person is busy, but the ability to meet with you once a month – or at least consistently, is a must.
- Choose a Mentor to Augment Your Skills: Everyone has different skill sets. For instance, some are great at seeing the big picture while others are excellent at minding the details. Choose a mentor that owns a skill set that will augment yours. Ken Yancey, CEO of SCORE said in an interview with Small Business Trends, “A mentor may view your business from a completely different perspective than you. Be fully open to their ideas and try to understand their view.”
- Capable of Delivering Straight-Talk: You want a mentor to tell you like it is and help you navigate through the tough times with “straight talk.” The last thing you need is someone to flatter you all the time. You need a true expert to deliver the messages that will help you succeed.
- Shares Your Values: Choose a mentor with similar business values that you inherently trust. If you’re “…a business owner who thinks it’s very important to be home for dinner with your family every night, then you probably don’t want to work with a business mentor who’s constantly going to tell you that you need to put in longer hours.”
- Has Contacts: Experts reinforce the concept that your mentor should be able to help you start and grow your business. While they are not the windfall that will make the business work (that is your job) they should be able to help you network. According to Smallbiztrends.com, “If your business mentor is successful in your industry, they’ve probably met lots of people who could potentially help your business.”