4 Reasons Why Every Small Business Owner Should Have a Mentor
There’s no better time to celebrate your business mentor than when January is National Mentoring Month.
If you have a mentor, you know how important that person has been or is to you and your business - so be sure to acknowledge that sometime this month with a call or note of your appreciation.
What about if you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner who’s never had a mentor? In that case, you may be missing out big time.
“One of the most important relationships a fledgling entrepreneur can have is with a mentor,” says Jared Weitz, CEO of United Capital Source Inc., in a Forbes Council post. “A mentor is a trusted advisor who helps you grow professionally and personally by offering advanced knowledge and experience. Mentors often help you set goals, maintain accountability, and offer encouragement.”
Here are four reasons why every entrepreneur and small business owner should have a business mentor.
Revenue & Business Growth
According to research by SCORE, the largest network of volunteer business mentors, small business clients who get three or more hours of mentoring report higher revenues and increased business growth.
The nonprofit organization also reports that it is five times more likely for aspiring mentors who work with a mentor to open a business than those who do not have a mentor.
A study by Kabbage, a global financial services, technology and data platform, said 92 percent of the small businesses surveyed agreed that mentors directly impact growth and the survival of their business.
“The early years of any business is a crucial make-or-break period and most small businesses agree mentors are vital to success,” says a post on the company’s website.
SCORE data shows mentorship increases the likelihood of a business opening and staying open. An extensive survey in 2018 showed 87 percent of businesses launched by clients who used mentors remained in operation after a year, as opposed to 75 percent of those without a mentor.
Because mentors share their experiences and lessons learned, they can help you make more informed decisions and avoid missteps.
The more mentoring a business receives, the greater the likelihood that a business can shake off struggles and focus on improvements and expansion, according to SCORE’s Megaphone of Main Street data report. The organization surveyed more than 20,000 business owners at all points of the business lifecycle: pre-start, startup, in-business, and transitioning.
“Mentors help you avoid unnecessary mistakes and set you up to succeed, faster,” said author, craftsman, and entrepreneur Eddie Thomason in a blog posted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“I value mentorship so much that I travel to high schools and colleges around the country to share my story with youth to inspire them to overcome their circumstances and win in life,” he says in the CO blog. “My goal is to help youth shed self-limiting beliefs and pursue a life they are passionate about living.”
When you’re starting a business, turning to family and friends for support and even advice is expected, but don’t expect to find the right mentor in this group.
Martin Zwilling, founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, says entrepreneurs need a mentor who doesn’t always support their ideas to succeed.
“For some reason, aspiring entrepreneurs seem to like to surround themselves with friends and family who are quick to tell you what you want to hear,” he writes in a blog for Inc. magazine. “You need critical guidance, tempered with experience and a positive outlook, to overcome obstacles and tune your strategy for the real world.”
Having a mentor isn’t just good for you personally and your business - it can also make for a happier and more loyal staff.
Sian Lenegan, a small businesses growth specialist who owns Work With Sian, suggests offering coaches or mentors in the workplace to help attract and retain talent.
“There’s a trend to provide employees with coaching or mentoring, and that’s far more valuable to a person’s development than a pingpong table,” she says in a Forbes Expert Panel post.