Why you should find a small business mentor
Small businesses are actually big business. They account for over 99% of all businesses in the UK, and employ millions of people across the country. Abroad, the scene is no different: there are over 23 million SMEs in the EU, which make up 99% of all European businesses.
Yet as you doubtless know, managing a small business isn’t easy. Only half of all small businesses last five years. Cashflow, expansion, and finding the right employees to help them grow are just some of the difficulties that small businesses face.
Happily, there are some things you can do to make sure your small business doesn’t become just another statistic. Connections to a business mentor can improve businesses’ five-year survival rates to 70% - a 40% increase in their chances of survival. It’s clear that mentors can be invaluable to small business as they bring an outside perspective, as well as support and guidance, helping you to vocalise your business plans and remain positive through the challenges that are part and parcel of life as a small business manager.
How do you go about finding yourself a small business mentor? We’ve covered a few effective ways to ensure that you and your business can make the connections that will help you to thrive.
Decide what support you need
Business mentors can cover a whole variety of roles. While some may be purely business-focused, others may take on a more social role, concerned more with your mental and emotional well-being while still understanding the business issues that link to these areas. Alternatively you may want a mentor who is experienced in your specific industry so you can knowledge share and learn from their personal experience of the market you work in. Whether it’s wider business knowledge, ideas for your own personal development, or just someone to check in on you, work out what you’ll benefit from and act accordingly to find the right people.
Look for business mentors in your existing networks
It can be easy to overlook the expertise of your friends and acquaintances, but often the perfect mentor for your small business can be right under your nose. Consider any experienced business people who have built their own successful business or been through the same challenges that you face in your professional life.
Equally, think of any friends you have that can provide a more structured approach to evaluating your own life circumstances and happiness. Your own well-being can have a serious impact on your business success, so it’s important to recognise the value of healthy communication on this and any other topic.
Consider professionals for unique areas of expertise
As a small business manager, it’s tempting to think you need to be the expert on everything, but there are some areas that are too broad and important to handle alone. Legal issues, financials, and personnel policy are just three areas where you may want to seek advice from professionals in these fields. Not only will they be able to guide you in the right direction, but their knowledge will likely save you plenty of time you’d have otherwise spent trying to get your head around these complex areas.
Connect with local and national government
Given the importance of small businesses to the economy, governments will provide all manner of support for small businesses. Part of this is the provision of resources and portals for mentors and those business looking to connect with them.
In the UK, most organisations for business mentors are run separately from central government, though many mentors have the government-funded Get Mentoring project to thank for their training. Portals such as mentorsme, Score, and MicroMentor all offer free ways for small businesses to get in touch with potential mentors. Many of these organisations host workshops, which can be effective opportunities to build relationships in person and learn from many experienced professionals in a dedicated setting.
However you go about finding and securing a business mentor, we wish you and your small business the best of luck!