Finding your business a brilliant mentor
Even with a great business idea and a lot of common sense, sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of guidance from someone who’s been there and done that when it comes to growing a small business.
Most business start-ups like the idea of having a mentor on side in principle; they just aren’t sure how to find a decent one. Here are a few tips to finding someone who’s perfect for your business.
Find a business mentor you know
It sounds obvious but the best way to find someone you trust is to look around your contacts for someone you already know, or at least know of. Ask around your friends and family, approach old workmates or managers and search your business networks to see if anyone comes up. See if there’s anyone who you’d consider a role model and approach them; they would more than likely be very flattered and happy to help where they can.
It’s best not to engage someone who is too close to you though; you need impartial advice and honesty, not someone who will agree with everything you do.
If your immediate network doesn’t reveal any obvious choices for a business mentor, go further out and ask other people. Join groups on social media and beyond, put out feelers and ask if there are any great mentors that people would recommend for your type of business.
You could go even further and speak to other business professionals you know – accountants and even lawyers, you never know who they may have on their books that’s the perfect match for you and your business.
Government-backed business mentoring schemes
Take a look at the Mentors Me website which is funded by the British Bankers Association (BBA) and supported by Institute of Directors, Prince’s Trust, British Chambers of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses. It’s a completely free site that gives small access to quality-assured business mentoring organisations around the UK, with a handy search engine to help you find the perfect person for you.
Ask people you admire for advice
People are generally happy to give advice, so if there’s an entrepreneur you particularly admire, try to either get an introduction, or if that’s not possible geo in cold and ask them for their opinion. You can search LinkedIn and Twitter for key influencers in your industry and approach them too. You have to be a bit realistic with who you approach, though; people like Richard Branson won’t have time to respond to an unsolicited enquiry, so look for a mentor who is approachable and more likely to want to help.
Check out their Twitter feed and see if they get into conversations with other users, that could be a clue to their approachability. It might be a long shot but persistence often pays off and even successful business people love to feel admired and useful.