How to Find a Business Mentor

by Norma

business-mentorA business mentor can guide you through the traffic snarl of starting a new business. Select a mentor carefully so you can depend on his depend on his wise advice and sensible counsel. Below are 8 points recommended by WikiHow.com that you may want  to keep in mind when looking for an adviser.

1. Be careful sharing your business  information. When you have a new business idea, be cautious. Don’t go around telling lots of people about it or your idea might be stolen. In selecting a mentor, be sure that this person is trustworthy and has no reason to undermine your attempts at starting out. More than this, be sure to choose someone who is positive, upbeat, and motivating. There is nothing more off-putting than someone whose negativity about your proposals! Ignore the naysayers, those who provide the figures of failed businesses; that’s negativity you can do without.

2. Find someone who is very experienced in business. The mentor must be good at running a business inside out, from the bottom to the top. Your mentor should have at least 10 years experience in the business field and have a track record that shines. Note how this person has overcome failures too; if they bounced back and did even better, this person is ideal!

3. Find someone who has the time to spend with you. It’s no good bagging a great mentor only to never see him or her. Check straight away if they can spare a couple of hours a week for a month or two to sit down together and run through all of the issues. Always be prepared to shout them coffee, a meal, etc. because this person is doing you an enormous favor. If they seek payment from you, that’s fine too; negotiate a fair deal and include as part of your start-up costs – view it as insurance for the security of the future business.

4. Look to the top. While you won’t be able to access the Richard Bransons and Estee Lauders of the world unless you’ve got personal friendships with them, you can learn from their experiences. There are many books, online resources and articles written by high level business people who can inspire and motivate your, as well as revealing the pitfalls and success strategies that they have experienced.

5. Look at companies. The stories of successful companies are well worth reading. They are not always about one dominant personality but are often a combination of leadership and great team skills. How this achieved is an important lesson to avail yourself of as you aim to build up good staff in your company. The company that’s always cited as an incredible success story is that of Southwest Airlines but there are many other good ones out there too – look at Fortune’s top companies for ideas of which to research.

6. Visit a government sponsored business bureau. Such places can provide an enormous range of great information to help you learn about starting a business and they often have free advisers available to talk you through government laws, business ideas, the dos and don’ts, etc.

7. Use the people who will be helping your business as a source of mentors. Your accountant and your lawyer will prove good mentors if you ask them for help. They also tend to know other people to refer you to for more detailed advice in specific areas.

8. Use professional resources. More general business mentoring can be found in the form of joining organizations relevant to your particular business. You will benefit from networking, from seminars, from dinner events, guest speakers, etc. and might even be able to tap into an advice line if one is offered. Think outside the square too – business can be extra challenging for women, so this can be a huge source of help, so if you are a businesswoman, consider joining a women’s professional network of support.

Tips:

Social Networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can help you find and network with others for professional inspiration. You’ll get access to others in your field or the field you are considering. These like-minded professionals provide guidance, support and a glimpse into their community. You may even come across fellow up-and-comers like Isaac Dabah, who are already tapped into a network of veterans ready to pick up more mentees.

Consider retired business owners. Who better to advise you than someone who built not only a success business but also a successful life from his or her years of endeavor? And they often have both the interest and the time to mentor you.

Look to your various governmental agencies at the municipal, county, state and federal level for programs and councilors. SCORE is particularly helpful.

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