Small business is challenging and adventurous, but sometimes it requires help from experienced entrepreneurs to get off the ground. The best mentors in any field are the professionals with proven track records in their industries. In other words, a small business mentor needs to be someone who has successfully run a company and can share valuable insights regarding finance, marketing and planning.
- Ask Industry Professionals for Advice
It’s always helpful to become friends with leaders in your industry. These days that can happen on social media before it does in the physical world. Sometimes the best mentors are just clicks away. Aside from company owners or executives, online thought leaders who have popular blogs may be easier to engage with through email. Usually authoritative bloggers can direct you to the best sources for further industry knowledge.
- Leverage Friends and Family
You may already know friends or relatives who are acquainted with a mentor who can help your business. These days consumers are paying more attention to the opinions of people in their closest circles as a way to make better choices. Find out from people you trust if they know any qualified mentor that can help your specific business.
The reason it’s important to consult people you trust is because there are plenty of so called mentors that just want to take your money. That’s why you need to do careful research and focus on mentors with excellent reviews.
- Read Trade Publications and Look for Ads
One of the best ways to learn about any industry is to read trade publications. Trade magazines can direct your attention to writers who cover specific areas that may interest you. These days, it’s possible to get to know writers and publishers by clicking their email addresses. Tapping into this resource can help expand your contacts, as the writer will likely be able to direct you to full time mentors.
- Watch YouTube Videos
Sometimes you can find mentors at home just by surfing online or watching YouTube videos. YouTube has become one of the most valuable resources in the emerging knowledge economy. Not only can videos demonstrate how to do things easily, they can also be viewed over and over, making them useful learning tools. Sometimes watching business leaders give speeches or interviews can be just as educational as learning from a personal mentor. Once you find experts that you like on YouTube, it’s easy to engage with them.
- Join Social Media Groups and Webinars
Another easy way to track down experts in your field is to join their social media network or attend a webinar. Finding mentors through webinars can be very rewarding because it often includes multimedia solutions. It will put you on the expert’s radar as a follower, which can grow to become a more meaningful relationship as time goes on. Both social networks and webinars are interactive, making them simple ways to have access to leaders with information that can help your small business.
- Check your Local Small Business Association
Every region of the country has a SCORE chapter, chamber of commerce, or small business association that works to help provide guidance to small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration funds SBDC’s ( Small Business Development Centers) and WBDC’s ( Women’s Business Development Centers) to train and grow small businesses owners. Part of the SBA’s job is to make sure that small businesses learn to access government contracts and small business set asides. So it’s a good idea to become familiar with your local SBA District office they offer training and support for small businesses as well.
Often big named business executive and entrepreneurs help provide guidance to these small business organizations. You never know who you could meet at a networking event, so be prepared with a compelling elevator pitch.
About the Author: Jim Belanger is a Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Sales where he leads the sales development and market positioning of multiple Ryko Solutions lines of product, including the equipment and services of MacNeil Wash Systems and CleanTouch cleaning solutions. He has a 25 years experience serving almost every segment of the car wash industry.