A business mentor is someone who's gained a level of success in their field and is thus sought out for advice by less seasoned entrepreneurs. Business mentors can be found through networking events and corporate gatherings. Some mentors are retired volunteers, while some are active businesspeople.
How to Find a Business Mentor:
Get out there and meet other businesspeople. Visit your local Chamber of Commerce to find out if there are any business meetups in your area. Many local business groups hold regular happy hour meetups, breakfasts, and other networking events, and these could provide an easy, comfortable way to meet someone who could be your mentor.
2. Exchange information.
When you've met someone who could be your mentor, exchange cards with them. Unless you've had an in-depth conversation, which isn't terribly likely at a meet and greet, it's probably too soon to ask them to be your business mentor. Ask if they'll let you buy them coffee or lunch sometime, then follow up later to set a date. A note: if they seem too busy for an initial meeting, they're probably too busy to be an effective mentor.
3. Make yourself accessible.
Becoming a mentor is a big responsibility, so if someone's willing to take that step with you, be sure that you're able to meet them when they're available. Remember that they're doing you a favor, so don't make them jump through hoops to fit into your schedule. Be flexible.
4. Follow up.
Be sure to reach out after the meeting and let your mentor know how much you've appreciated them spending time with you. If the meeting has been fruitful, let them know that you'd like to meet again. Be confident, and follow your instincts - if it's the right time, let them know that you greatly value their advice and that you'd like them to be your business mentor.
5. Let the relationship grow.
Solid business mentorships grow and evolve over time, and can span years. Let the relationship follow its own course while continuing to be thankful for and follow your mentor's advice. As the mentorship matures, you may find yourself on a more equal footing with your mentor, and may even start to give advice yourself. Once you've gained success through hard work and the fruitful guidance of your mentor, less experienced entrepreneurs might begin to approach you for possible mentorship.
Where to Find a Business Mentor:
|Systems Method||Online||Apply for free trial|
|Kristen Ley||Phone||$300.00 per hour|
|Small Business Development Centers||In Person||Free|
|Women's Business Centers||In Person||Free|
|Financial Mentor||Online||Free courses available|
|Pacific Community Ventures||Various||Free|
|Vistage||Various||Available upon acceptance|
|The ExecRanks||Online||Available after application|
Business Mentor FAQs:
How do I find a business mentor?
There are a number of ways to find a business mentor: you can search for and attend local business meetups, you can use online business mentor matching services, or you can simply approach someone whose work you respect and ask if they'd like to exchange information, then follow up and see if you can buy them coffee or lunch.
Make sure they have the time and inclination to be a mentor, and that you are open to hearing and following their advice.
What do I look for in a small business mentor?
A good business mentor should be someone who knows what it's like to be in your shoes, so ideally you'll find a mentor who's not only run a successful business but has started where you have; for example, they've built their business from the ground up rather than bought into an already thriving operation.
A successful small business mentor/mentee relationship is also rarely built between direct competitors, so if your mentor is still operating a business make sure you're not selling the same product or service to the same clients.
Why Do Entrepreneurs Need Business Mentors?
- Support with tough business decisions.
- Advice from someone who's "been there."
- Access to a wider business network.
- Help dealing with growing pains.
- Guidance through turbulent times.
- A sounding board for ideas.
What are some good questions to ask a business mentor?
- How do I maintain a competitive edge in an evolving landscape?
- How do I attract and retain the best employees?
- Are regular company meetings worthwhile or can time be better spent?
- What's the best advice your business mentor told you?
- How do I cope with good employees that don't work well together?
- What are the best ways to attract investors?
How do I find a business mentor near me?
If you're looking for someone you can easily meet with face-to-face, there are a number of ways to find a local business mentor. You can stop by your city's Chamber of Commerce and find out whether they have upcoming leadership meetups. Attending local networking events could also put you in a room with possible mentors. Additionally, there are a number of online resources designed to help you find someone with whom you'll work well.
How Do I Find a Startup Mentor?
- Attend local tech events.
- Reach out to the founders of companies you admire.
- Contact the nearest tech incubator for direction.
- Research online.
- Read local business and tech publications.
How do I locate an ecommerce business mentor?
The ecommerce landscape is unique and presents far different challenges than those faced by brick and mortar businesses. If you're specifically looking for guidance in operating an online business, you need to ensure you're not targeting the same customers. Ecommerce can be extraordinarily competitive, so it could be more difficult to find an ecommerce business mentor than one who's experienced in more traditional business.
In addition, ecommerce never sleeps, so it could be challenging to find someone who has enough time to be a good mentor. Research, and find out whether you can find someone online who'll be willing to spend some time with you.
How do I find a successful mentor?
This is perhaps the most important question. If you're going to start a beneficial relationship with a mentor, it's critical that you find someone who fits the definition of "successful" in your industry. Many available business mentors are retired, so you can gauge their success by researching their former company.
Remember, though, that success is often achieved by persevering through and learning from failure; an executive or founder who's been through both ups and downs will likely be an extremely successful mentor.