As anyone who has ever watched a well-meaning but incompetent loved one put together a piece of furniture from IKEA can attest, it’s okay to ask for help. When you up the stakes from building a bookshelf to building a business, asking for advice becomes even more important.
For first-time business owners in particular, it is utterly crucial to have someone experienced to bounce ideas off of and to turn to for advice. Even if you are a seasoned business owner, you’d know that everyone’s experiences are different and that you can always learn from the successes and failures that have gotten other businesses where they are today.
1. You don’t know what you’re doing
Don’t get defensive but when you’re starting your first business you’re all but guaranteed to make mistakes. From using the wrong software to hiring the wrong people to not registering your businesses name’s and trademarks or something completely different. If you have a mentor who has already made all these mistakes and learnt from them, then they can help you navigate the trying territory of starting your own business.
2. Make connections
A good mentor with years of experience will be well-connected and could have hundreds of contacts in your industry. Your mentor will be able to make introductions to other business people. Making personal connections might be able to win you an account, score you an invite to a conference or even help make some lifelong personal friends.
3. Have a fresh pair of eyes
When you’re starting a new business, you’re understandably emotionally invested in its success. You’ve taken an idea you’re passionate about, invested your time, money and energy – it’s your ‘baby.’ When problems arise in your company it can be hard to take a step back and look at it dispassionately. This is where your mentor can step in to give you advice. Sometimes when you’re too close to something, emotion can cloud your judgement and stop you from being able to see the solution – even if it’s right in front of you. If you’re still not convinced then head here to read a great article further explaining the benefits of business mentors.
But where can you find these amazing mentors?
1. Networking sites
You’ve probably already got an account on at least one professional networking site (cough..LinkedIn) but there are actually a whole range of different networking sites including sites specifically designed to cater for your industry. Check out this article to read about the best networking sites for your industry. Remember, it is also worth checking out if there are any Facebook groups for networking in your city!
2. Through alumni organisations
Never underestimate the power of your alma mater. Bonding over your shared university experiences can be a great foundation upon which you can build a professional relationship. Many universities have mentoring programs of their own designed to match recent graduates with other alumni who have become successful in their chosen field.
3. Through a professional mentoring service
There are many services for facilitating mentorships. If you haven’t had any luck finding a mentor on your own you might want to enlist professional help. Have a look at mentor matching services in your city. If you’re a female business owner you might be looking for a female mentor and many sites specialise in connecting like-minded businesswomen. Head here or here to check out some homegrown female mentor matching sites.