According to the Small Business Association, roughly 50 percent of new businesses close within the first five years. That isn’t all that surprising though, is it? Most everyone who starts a business goes into the process with some variation of rose-colored glasses. While logically, they understand the hard work that’s ahead of them but, realistically, they have no idea what lies ahead.
There are several things that make a small business not only survive but thrive in today’s world. A good business plan, the right investors, and scalability are just some of the factors, but it might surprise you to know that one thing successful small business owners have, is a mentor to lead the way.
A UPS Store survey discovered that 70 percent of small business owners who had a mentor survived five years or longer. Even more important is 88 percent of those surveyed believe having a business mentor is invaluable to success.
A business mentor is someone who has been there, done that and owns the coffee mug to prove it. They are seasoned professionals with more than knowledge to pass along. As a fledgling business owner or entrepreneur, you’re being inundated with mass amounts of information and tasks to complete before you can open the doors to your business.
There’s a good chance you’re also getting plenty of unsolicited advice, and not all of it is good! The right mentor can be your guide through the overwhelming task of starting a business.
Your mentor can help you with everything from branding your business to teaching the intricacies of business compliance. With their wisdom and guidance, you may learn how to shift your mindset or when it’s time to scale your business.
Your mentor should be a person who doesn’t have direct ties to your business, like an investor, but should be just as important as one, if not more so.
Other factors to take into consideration when finding the right mentor for your business:
- Define what you want for your business and your career.
- The mentor should have similar values.
- In the same or a similar industry as you
Now that you know what you’re looking for in a mentor, let’s explore some of the ways to find them.
Finding a mentor can be a little tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, most mentor-mentee relationships occur naturally. That’s to say, you may have already met them but don’t realize it yet.
However, if you haven’t found the right mentor, there are several ways to do so:
- Consider your current connections. It sounds cliché but the truth is, who you’re looking for could be right under your nose. If you belong to any business associations or specific networks, such as a chamber of commerce. Look at who you do business with but who are not your customers. Ask for the introduction into their network. Break your connections down into lists if you need to.
- Expand your network. Sometimes you need to build new connections. That might be as simple as attending an event you’ve never been to or signing up for the pick-up basketball game at your local community center.
- Volunteer. Speaking of the local community center; volunteering in your community whether it be on neighborhood projects, or other community outreach missions, you’ll likely find other professionals just like you or who can introduce you to someone else.
- Find a mentorship program near you. Some professional associations have programs strictly for mentoring. They work with experienced professionals to facilitate mentorship opportunities.
While walking up to a stranger and asking, “Will you be my mentor,” may not be the most professional way to find a mentor, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach for the stars. If there is someone you idolize or have been following over the years, as an inspiration, reach out and start a conversation. Ask to meet up if you’ll be traveling near their location or if you discover you’ll both be attending an upcoming conference.
Keep in mind, everyone has a busy schedule so if someone connects with you and suggests a meeting, follow-up and make it happen. Give them your contact information and be sure to reach out if they’ve shared their information.
Finding a mentor should be less about a formal partnership and more about building a relationship or a business friendship. You can actively search for a mentor but don’t rule out the people you may know or talk to on a regular basis.
About Jeremiah Flowers
Jeremiah Flowers, known as “The Enterpriser,” helps aspiring business owners build their businesses from the ground up with compliance and scalability in mind. He has a new TV show series launching in December 2021. Apply to his Enterpriser Accelerator Program today.
Published December 17th, 2021