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How to find a mentor as a small business owner

January 25, 2016

January is National Mentoring Month! Don’t miss out on an opportunity to find or become a mentor. These relationships will benefit you as a small business owner.

Becoming a small business owner can be a daunting process. Whether you’re a veteran or are just starting your career, mentorships can be a valuable use of time. Learning how to find a mentor may seem intimidating, but once you have one you’ll be able to rely on them for advice and networking opportunities. If you’re already a seasoned small business owner, being a mentor can be a great way to connect with someone with less experience. In honor of National Mentoring Month, learn about how to find a mentor, or become one.

Finding a mentor

If you’re just starting your career, a small business mentor can help you navigate the challenges of owning a business. Whether it is writing a business plan, applying for working capital or hiring new employees, having a small business mentor can help you gain insight from someone with more experience. Although determining how to find a mentor can seem nerve-wracking, asking someone you already have a relationship with will make it easier. In most cases, you shouldn’t ask a stranger to be your mentor; the answer will likely be no, since they won’t know your work ethic or potential. If you’re set on asking someone whose work you admire, but you don’t know personally, interact with them as much as possible. Share their LinkedIn posts, take them for a cup of coffee and continue to foster the relationship, then they will be more willing to help you.

If possible, ask the individual in-person instead of via email. It will make them more likely to say yes, and an email can be easily ignored. Be upfront about why you would like a mentor, and what you need assistance with. Don’t be offended if someone declines your mentoring request, most experienced professionals have a lot of responsibilities and may not have time to fulfill your needs.

Once you find a mentor, listen to their council and take of their expertise. In addition, make sure that you utilize their expertise, but don’t take advantage of them.

Being a mentor

If you had a great mentor who helped you in your career, pay it forward and consider being a mentor to someone else. While it is important to find someone to mentor you, it is just important to learn how to be a mentor. Even though you’re probably busy with your own career, giving back to young entrepreneurs is an awesome opportunity. The most important aspect of mentoring is being clear with your mentee regarding how much time you can give them and what you can assist them with. These boundaries will make your interactions more productive. In addition, ensure that the individual you are mentoring is responsible and serious about advancing themselves. It would be unfortunate to waste time mentoring someone who isn’t fully committed to their future as a small business owner.

Participating in a mentorship can be a rewarding experience, and National Mentoring Month is the best time to start seeking out these types of opportunities. Tell us about your small business mentor experiences in the comment section below!

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