Deciding to start a business is only the first of many decisions you will be faced with getting your business off the ground. While the final decisions are ultimately yours, it is helpful to seek other opinions for reassurance. Having a mentor who has had experience and success in starting a business can be a useful resource to bounce ideas off of, but how do you find someone with knowledge and experience in your industry? The SBA offers the following tips.
There are a plethora of free government agencies to support small business owners. You can find mentoring and other services at government organizations such as SCORE, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and the Minority Business Development Agency.
Industry trade associations frequently have mentoring programs that often include one-on-one mentoring sessions as well as group networking sessions.
It can be particularly challenging getting your business started if you plan to sell your products or services to the government. Because of these challenges, the General Services Administration offers a mentoring program designed to assist small businesses in government contracting.
Use the people around you. Are there former bosses you looked up too, or friends who have started successful businesses? Don’t hesitate to ask them for advice and how they overcame any obstacles they faced to achieve success.
Finding a mentor is only the first step. Once you find him or her, a key factor to keep in mind is to be prepared and organized. You want to make the most of the relationship without wasting the mentor’s or your time. Plan your meetings in advance, whether it’s bi-weekly or once month, and be prepared to update your mentor on progress and write down any questions so you don’t forget them. Always have a pen and paper on hand at the meetings, and be sure to let the mentor know how appreciative you are and how important their time and advice is to you and your business.
Mentors are a big asset to entrepreneurs starting their first business. Here are five tips from the U.S. Small Business Administration for finding an invaluable business mentor.