Fiscal, business, and personal decisions are often an entrepreneur’s sole responsibility. This may be daunting at times but a mentor could be an invaluable source of advice and growth for small business owners. We’ve outlined some tips on finding a mentor, and making the most of a mentorship opportunity.
1. Mentors for all seasons
There are different areas in which one can be mentored, so it’s helpful to have more than one mentor. A trade-specific mentor, for example, is helpful for navigating legal requirements and industry-specific matters. On the converse, a mentor who’s not in your industry may give you a new perspective about your business, and teach you things that you wouldn’t have otherwise known.
2. Technology could be your most useful (and free) tool
So you want a mentor but don’t know where to start looking for one? Fortunately, online networks can be as effective and powerful as face-to-face ones. Services like LinkedIn and Bizcommunity provide opportunities to make contact with people whose business ethics you have admired from a distance. Use the free tools at your disposal to cut costs and get the best of out a mentorship opportunity.
3. Mentors save money
A mentor who can offer legal advice could save you money on formal consultations. Phone calls and lunch meetings with mentors cost very little, and are extremely valuable without having to take up too much precious time. Raymond Rampolokeng of So We Too has much to say on the topic of mentorship and saving money in this post. Having several mentors who are knowledgeable in different areas is a bonus – you’ll be receiving words of wisdom from practised hands across the board, learning as you go along.
4. Even without a physical mentor, there are many places to learn from
In Chapter 4 of the 1001 Days web series, Nelisiwe Masango (one of our featured entrepreneurs) shares her views on mentorship. She doesn’t have a personal mentor, but uses available resources to gain insight into various fields. She is guided by biographies, autobiographies, and documentaries - about people and by people - she admires in business. Through technology’s extensive reach and the information that’s now freely accessible, someone across the globe could potentially become your closest business consultant.
5. A mentor is not your “buddy”
Mentors will often be older and more seasoned in business than you, and this means a different and experienced perspective for your start up. They may not be as emotionally invested or attached to your business as you, which helps when things get get tough. They will be able to help you see more clearly when your judgement may get clouded. More often than not, they will have experienced similar problems in their past ventures, and have something valuable to teach you about your own business issues.
Learn more about what our featured entrepreneurs, Nelisiwe and Mariam, have to say about mentorship in chapter 4 of the 1001 Days web series.