Ask any entrepreneur, and they’ll tell you one thing: Running a business is an uphill battle. An up-and-coming entrepreneur can feel too overwhelmed, especially without ample experience. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to raise the white flag. A simple and cost-efficient solution could be hiring or working with a business mentor. Read on as we delve deeper into business mentoring. We’ll also throw in some tips on how to find a business mentor best-suited for you and your business.
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What Does a Business Mentor Do?
If you want to know how to find a business mentor, you have to accept the responsibilities and limitations of this role. In a nutshell, a business mentor is someone experienced in business who will give you tips, advice, and guidance while you’re running your own. They are in no way, shape or form, investors who will provide funding for your business.
In addition, business mentors must be people who have been on the rollercoaster ride of business where they were able to turn failure into success.
Business mentoring may be classified into two types:
- Face-to-face business mentoring
- Online business mentoring
Face-to-face business mentoring is a more formal type of business mentorship where an entrepreneur and mentor schedule sessions face to face. The mentor may prepare business goals and objectives to ensure that every meeting is fruitful. Both parties must agree on the mentoring structure and how much involvement the entrepreneur wants for the mentor.
On the other hand, online business mentoring is more informal compared to face-to-face business mentoring. The mentee and the mentor meet virtually, which creates a more casual environment and set-up for both. This type of business mentoring is beneficial for both parties that are geographically challenged.
Every new entrepreneur would want all the help they can get to start their business from the ground up. Entrepreneurs can collaborate with their friends and family for business mentoring, which is mostly free. Otherwise, they can also subscribe to a business mentorship service or hire a freelance business mentor from online marketplaces.
4 Benefits of Having a Business Mentor
Working with a business mentor means you’ll always have a second opinion about critical business decisions. Moreover, getting tips and advice from someone who has been on the same road before sounds promising for your venture as well. So before we tell you how to find a business mentor, know the benefits of having one first.
Support and Guidance
Getting yourself into a jam is inevitable if you’re a new business owner. You’ll likely experience the “lows” when first starting with your business. If you’re a sole proprietor, it can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining carrying all the burdens in business.
That said, having a business mentor means you’ll have emotional and mental support all the way. Moreover, a business mentor will help guide you drive your business in its journey. He acts as the passenger while you take on the wheel.
Starting a business from the ground up can put too much responsibility on one person. Also, you won’t have a boss to consult with because you’re already the boss who calls the shots. This is where a business mentor steps in whenever you need to make crucial business decisions, validate methods and processes or ask for opinions and feedback.
Remember that business mentors have experience running a successful business. They’ve also been through rollercoaster rides and have also taken the bull by the horns. Amidst all of it, though, they’re resilient and triumphant. And that’s the only lesson you need to learn from business mentors — how to overcome failures and lead a successful business.
Knowing how to find a business mentor will enable you to find the right one. Someone who also has ample experience in your industry is preferable. However, that rule doesn’t always follow as you can learn industry trends and practices from other resources.
The fundamental reason for a business mentor is someone who will teach you how to rise amidst failures and mistakes and turn those into steppingstones for bringing the business forward. Overall, a business mentor will help you develop your business skills and build your confidence.
Since business mentors have dealt with other businesspeople before, they’ll likely introduce you to a handful of them when the situation calls for it. Having been in the commerce industry for years, business mentors relatively have an extensive network.
If you develop and nurture your relationship with your mentor, he’ll likely open his network to you as well. This is beneficial for a new entrepreneur like you who needs connections to run the business smoothly.
Relationship Built on Trust
Working with your business mentor for the first few months will entail a deeper connection to enable both to open up and express themselves. Then, as you work with your business mentor for months or years, you’ll develop trust within your bubble.
The more you work with your business mentor, the more you trust each other with your challenges. Overall, this can build an excellent foundation, which is a good basis for a business work partnership.
How to Find a Business Mentor: 8 Qualities to Look For
Before we tell you how to find a business mentor, here’s a rundown of the qualities you need to consider. Working with a person with the right qualities will ensure the relationship isn’t disorganized. Instead, the working relationship will be harmonious because you are a good fit for one another.
You’ll need someone best suited for you, or else you’ll never be able to work seamlessly due to various backgrounds, characteristics, and principles. If possible, choose someone who is also experienced in the industry you’re in. If not, choose a business mentor with extensive knowledge of business skills and practices.
Most importantly, ensure that both of you have great chemistry right off the bat. You’ll know and feel this after a few lunches out together or quick coffee meetings. Talk about what your business goals are or what your overall goals are in life.
Wondering how to find a business mentor who will stick with you until the end, even when the going gets tough? First, assess how committed your business mentor is. It’s recommended that you ask about his availability as you don’t want to be left hanging.
While some entrepreneurs prefer different meeting frequencies, you have to make this clear to your business mentor. Next, decide on a regular meeting with your mentor. Would you rather talk to him once a week? Or would you prefer to discuss progress with him a couple of times weekly? Your business mentor must be fully committed to checking up on you regularly and vice versa.
The last thing you want from a business mentor is negativity. You want your business mentor to always see the positive side of failures, setbacks, and bumps along the way. New entrepreneurs may feel down whenever a setback occurs.
A business mentor’s role is to build the entrepreneur’s confidence and rise against failures and mistakes. Find a business mentor who will encourage you to push forward even when everything seems to push you backward.
If you’re wondering how to find a business mentor who can contribute to your overall well-being, consider respectfulness as a quality. You want a business mentor who values respect within your working relationship.
Find a business mentor who will respect your opinions and value them. This partnership should be a two-way street. That said, also show respect to whatever your business mentor has to say.
Provides Honest Feedback
A business mentor who gives honest feedback is vital, so you’ll know where you need to improve. In addition, constructive criticism is extremely beneficial for new entrepreneurs as you’re still testing the waters in your industry.
It can be difficult for a sole proprietor to see things from another perspective. And that’s why having a business mentor around will let you see the other side of the coin. He’ll point out your strengths and allow you to improve your weaknesses.
A business mentor who actively listens will make new business owners feel valued. Active listening is critical in business mentoring because new entrepreneurs will always have qualms about different aspects of the business.
When a business mentor listens actively, he’ll provide more solutions that come up in conversations. Instead of stifling your ideas and suggestions, business mentors will encourage answers to problems.
Adaptive Communication Skills
People have various communication skills and methods. But, no matter how experienced or good your business mentor is, you’ll never be able to see eye to eye without proper communication.
Communication is key to successful business mentorship. That said, find a business mentor with adaptive communication skills. He has to be able to speak your language, so both of you are on the same page.
The last crucial quality you need to consider before telling you how to find a business mentor is open-mindedness. Having experienced all the failures, mistakes, frustrations, and heartaches from running a business can taint a mentor’s objectivity. In addition, the battle scars over the years could also impact their decision-making.
However, an excellent business mentor would take everything objectively rather than subjectively. He must be open-minded to your situation and not impede progress just because he’s had bad experiences before.
How to Find a Business Mentor: 10 Effective Ways
Now that you’re equipped with the business mentorship qualities, here are 10 steps to finding a business mentor.
1. Attend networking events
One way to find a business mentor is to attend networking events. These events are designed to expand your network and provide more partnerships down the road. While at these events, try to engage with as many people as you can. However, remember not to be too evident with your goals.
For example, if you’re running a new business, don’t be overly sales pitchy. Make it seem like you want to work with them instead of selling your product or service. The primary goal of network expansion is to connect with as many like-minded people who can possibly help you someday.
2. Find mentors on social media
There have been a lot of partnerships built on social media channels. You have to be on the right platform or social media groups. Three of the most common social media platforms to find young professionals or business owners are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
Using hashtags to search for conversations on Twitter will help you find like-minded individuals. Searching for appropriate groups on Facebook and LinkedIn will also enable you to connect with similar networks.
Moreover, you can set geographical boundaries or demographic settings on these social media channels to narrow down the people you’re searching for.
3. Browse through your network
If you’re wondering how to find a business mentor through networking, one place to start is through your network. It can be challenging for new entrepreneurs with not enough background experience in their industry to expand their networks. Most of these networks are limited.
However, some find gold within their own circle. For example, try your work connections like colleagues, bosses, or clients. Better yet, you can also check within your alumni network or college professors.
4. Stalk competitors
If your competitors have been in the business longer than you, they most likely have extensive networks. But, of course, you can’t come up to them and ask who their business mentors are directly.
However, do a bit of stalking and check their websites or social media pages. See if they’re working with anyone significant. Read their case studies and see if you can find anecdotes from industry leaders.
5. Join professional associations
Joining business groups or professional associations is also one way you can find the perfect business mentor. When searching for a business mentor, make sure that he’s not a direct competitor as there may be biases or personal interests.
Moreover, you can also sign up for business mentorship programs such as Super Scaling. This organization helps both new and existing entrepreneurs get past the growth stage to reach the scale stage. Scaling your business means more sales and fewer expenses, leading to more profits. Learn more about the Super Scaling community here.
6. Keep an eye out for meetup groups
If your area has a thriving industrial landscape, you can leverage meetup groups to find the most suitable business mentor. Keep an eye out for business events and engage with people to know if there are regular meetup groups for businesses. Then, join as many of these meetup groups and see if you can find someone on your business radar level.
7. Volunteer for organizations or events
Whether you’re volunteering for a business event, charity, or sports event, it’s one of the best ways to find a business mentor. People who join particular organizations or events signify that they have similar advocacies and believe in the same social responsibilities. This can be an excellent gauge when searching for a business mentor.
8. Attend industry conferences
A local business owner or an industry leader might be coming to your area to hold a business conference. Attend industry events like this because you’ll likely find like-minded entrepreneurs who are also in the same business hemisphere.
Moreover, keep your eyes peeled for launching events for small- or medium-sized businesses. Product launchings are also one avenue where you can find business mentors interested in innovations and valuable products in similar niches.
9. Join startup incubators and accelerators
Both startup incubators and accelerators help new and existing businesses scale. Startup incubators aim to help new entrepreneurs refine their business ideas and help establish their companies from scratch. Its counterpart helps existing businesses by providing resources and education to forge their companies forward.
Startup accelerators work with companies with an existing minimum viable product (MVP). Applying for startup accelerators is more competitive than applying for incubators because businesses that don’t show signs of progress are welcome to apply for the incubator mentorship program. Learn more about startup incubators and accelerators here.
10. Ask family and friends
This last step on how to find a business mentor is the most convenient of all. First, ask your family or friends if they know someone who does mentorship programs. Better yet, ask them if they know someone who has established a business from the ground up which is still operational. Once you find a business mentor through this, it can be easy to foster trust and confidence in the relationship because they’re friends with your close contacts.
Now that you know how to find a business mentor, it’s time to search high and low for one that will fit your preferences. Then, nurture the relationship because business mentorship can open up opportunities for you and your business. Provided that you value each other’s time, effort, ideas, and feedback, you’ll see your business flourish in the long run.