(This post is brought to you by Sam's Club and The Motherhood, however all opinions are my own.)
Do you have a business mentor or coach? Someone you can count on to keep you focused, and advise you on the next stage of your business growth?
Business mentorships can range from the very formal to the very casual, paid to free, new relationship to old friend. Regardless of the format, the benefits of having a business mentor or coach are the same.
The business mentor you choose should be someone with more business experience than you. They have “been in the trenches” and have gained the benefit of experience. Success and failure are both great teachers, but it's always nice to learn from someone else's failures so you don't have to experience that particular failure for yourself! (Don't worry, I'm sure you'll have your own failures which you can use to mentor someone else! 🙂 )
A Level-Headed Sounding Board
You're drinking your coffee one morning when the best business idea in the whole word ever hits you! You have got to tell someone about this next best and greatest thing that will completely transform your business and life forever! You call your best friend, but she doesn't quite get this whole “entrepreneurial thing” you're doing. Next you call your husband at work, but he's on his way to a meeting and only has 2 seconds to talk. The dog and your toddler are too busy playing in a mud puddle to stop and listen. Who can you share your idea with? Your business mentor of course! Your business mentor gets the whole “entrepreneurial thing” and wants to help you succeed. She understand the jargon you are tossing around such as increased cash flow and product-market fit without her eyes glazing over in confusion. It's such sweet relief to have someone you can share your business ideas with!
An Impartial Opinion
After you tell your business mentor your super fabulous completely awesome couldn't possibly fail idea, she weighs your idea against her knowledge and experience. She wants you to succeed as much as you do, but she can also evaluate your business ideas against a different measuring stick — reality. We all know that pure adrenaline and excitement can take over when a new business idea is born. A business mentor can ask the right probing questions to make sure the excitement isn't clouding your vision. She can impartially see both sides of the idea and advise accordingly. Your business mentor can help you to evaluate new ideas based on feasibility, your strengths, your weaknesses, and your ultimate business goals.
Support and Encouragement
As you move forward with your super fabulous idea (slightly adjusted after talking with your mentor to be more aligned with reality!) you start to lose hope. You have been working every spare minute on your idea for the last month, and you start to question the idea… and question yourself as an entrepreneur. Once again, the business mentor saves the day. She steps in at just the right time with the encouragement you need to keep moving forward. She reminds you that this is a fantastic plan grounded on solid research. Ahhhh! You are revived!
While you're still knee deep in the implementation of the first idea, another great idea strikes! But this new idea is better than the old one — it's the golden ticket! You skip the best friend, husband, and toddler this time, and dial your business mentor right away. She patiently listens without judgment, and then gently talks you off the wall. “Remember dear entrepreneur, the project you are currently working on is perfectly aligned with your business goals. Remember rookie entrepreneur that in order to succeed you will need to finish one project before you move on to the next.” (She says all this kindly and without patronizing!) Oh, yes. She is so right. This idea can wait. Your current plan is solid, and is almost nearing completion. You would have been a fool to throw it all away! Thank heavens for the accountability of a business mentor.
Sign me up for a mentor! I need one now!
Recently I learned of a program that provides free mentors for entrepreneurs. It's called SCORE. SCORE is a non-profit dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and small businesses thrive. SCORE is able to offer many services for free or low cost because they are supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 11,000 volunteers, and corporate sponsors such as Sam's Club. In fact, each year Sam's Club sponsors, in conjunction with SCORE, The American Small Business Championship. In 2015, 102 winners received a $1,000 Sam's Club gift card, national publicity, and many other benefits. Be sure to enter your business in the competition for 2016!
Veronica of Baby Love, a 2015 Sam's Club American Small Business Champion said that “I have found that having a SCORE business mentor has been really helpful, because sometimes when I’m going from the day-to-day in my business, there are things that I don’t think of and will miss. I have been very lucky to have found a mentor who not only understands the niche that I am in, but can also help make suggestions for things that I would have never thought of. His different background is a huge asset to my business, because he knows things that I don’t know!”
Whatever method you choose to find a business mentor or coach, get out there and find one. Your business, your sanity, and your bank account will thank you!