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small business mentors

Small Business Mentors: Why You Should Find One … Or Be One

When you need a hand, ask for it. And when you have a hand to spare, lend it.

This simple philosophy is the driving force behind the way entrepreneurs should approach the concept of small business mentors.

No one is an expert in everything. Thus, when you’re starting up a small business, it makes sense to fill gaps in your knowledge set by reaching out to more experienced professionals with a passion to pass on what they’ve learned.

Thing is, once you’re in the space long enough, you should accumulate plenty of wisdom yourself. And what better way of paying it back than helping those who were in your shoes just a few years ago?

Today, we’re going to talk about both sides of small business mentors. That is: Why you should seek a mentor early on in your startup journey, and eventually, why you should become one.

The Benefits of Having (Or Being) a Small Business Mentor

Knowing Where to Look for Land Mines

One of the most important services that small business mentors provide is helping you avoid mistakes that can slow your growth or even sink your company.

You might be a brilliant product developer, but you might not have a nose for numbers. A small business mentor can point out some accounting basics and even warn you about certain unexpected costs that pop up.

Or perhaps you’re eager to scale, but you have no way of knowing when the right time is to bring on a new employee. Mentors will have a better idea of when your small business is ready for its first hire (and subsequent hires).

But remember: Just like you don’t know everything, no small business mentor knows everything, either. People have specialties. So, consider reaching out to multiple mentors who each have different strengths.

Establishing Important Business Connections

Small business mentors can also help open doors to opportunities that otherwise would have been closed to you.

Think about it. If you’re an entrepreneur, chances are some of your goals for the next few years involve going to networking events and conferences, and building up industry connections. You should still do all that — but at the onset, tapping mentors who have already done much of that is like a “cheat code” of sorts.

In some cases, mentors will be able and happy to connect you with, say, better vendors, other mentors and even investors who can accelerate your small business’s growth.

Having Someone to Tell You “No” (Or “Yes!”)

Especially when you’re a business of one, small business mentors can provide an important sounding board for some of your most vital ideas.

Everyone has their own biases. Running ideas by other people is a way to check your own biases at the door, and determine whether other people with more (or at least different) experience see an idea working the same way you do. Whether it’s an idea for the company logo or the rollout of a whole new suite of services, mentors can help you weed out bad ideas and hone plans with real potential.

Keeping Your Skills Sharp

Being a small business mentor will often allow you to flex muscles you might not have used for some time. Especially if your business has swelled, and your position has been narrowed down to simply leading the troops, helping out a novice is a chance to deal with more fundamental, foundational issues.

Also, evaluating a company as it’s just getting started might give you a renewed perspective on certain aspects of your own business. Or it might provide you with a few new ideas to implement.

Possible Investment Opportunities

By making connections with budding entrepreneurs, small business mentors have the opportunity to closely evaluate potential investments and even acquisition targets down the road.

You never know where the next great idea is going to come from. But if it happened to come from a mentee you’ve helped train, and who you’ve grown comfortable with, that’s an ideal situation compared to making an investment in a company you don’t really know with a leader who you’ve only just met.

Where Can You Find Mentors?

There’s no one top way to meet mentors. But some of the ways mentees can connect with small business mentors, and vice versa, include:

  • Score.org
  • Networking events
  • Online business forums
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

Other Ways to Get Sound Small Business Advice

Many small business owners often have to learn on the fly, but there are plenty of things you don’t want to come up against cold. That’s where McManamon & Co. can help.

We’re an accounting, tax, fraud, forensic and consulting firm that offers custom services to small and midsize businesses across a broad spectrum of industries. And among other things, we provide broad consulting services to firms, covering a wide array of subjects you’ll need to understand as you build your budding small business.

Learn more about what we can do for you. Call us at 440.892.8900 or contact us online today.

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