Question: I have been in business for two years. It has been suggested that I seek out the advice of a business counselor. Can you give me some ideas of how a mentor will help?
Answer: According to the SBA Office of Advocacy only half of all small businesses survive more than five years. 30% won’t last more than 24 months.
According to the UPS Store Study, 2014, 70% of mentored businesses survive more than five years. That same study says that 88% of business owners say having a mentor to lean on is invaluable.
Jean Mojo, a Certified SCORE Mentor, shares “Why is having a mentor so effective?”
An objective resource: Mentors are objective about your business and can open your mind to new solutions, new ways of doing business. Mentors have worked with suppliers, understand customer dynamics and can help you understand how to best deal with these individuals.
Experienced: Take advantage of a mentor’s experience. They’ve already made the mistakes you want to avoid. Learn from them. As a small business owner your friends and family provide more advice than you could need but what advice should you be listening to? Mentors can use their business experience to help you sort through all that advice and advise you on more complicated matters than your friends and family can help you with.
An impartial confidant: It’s lonely going solo—your family and your employees don’t understand the stress and difficulty of a startup. A mentor is more likely to understand the issues and help you get through the tough times. Sometimes you also need to vent and venting at your family or your employees isn’t productive. Mentors can help you work through that nasty problem whether it’s frustration with under-performing employees, lack of sales success or product issues. Mentors can give you the confidence you need when facing difficult times and recognize the great decisions you make every day.
Skill Builders: Small business owners are rarely experts in every area. Often, a small business owner is an excellent chef, jewelry maker or landscaper but doesn’t have the required skills of daily business management or accounting or human resources. A mentor can work with you gain the skills you need to better run your business.
A growth resource: You’ve had some success on the smaller level, selling out at the farmer’s market or your products have been a hit at a few outlets. Now you want to expand. How do you write the necessary business plan? Create the right brand strategy for the next generation of your products? Think about hiring the right people? This is where a mentor can provide critical assistance as they help you navigate the tricky waters of growth.
An ongoing resource: Mentor relationships can bear the test of time. Mentors have no motive other than your success. If you have a strong relationship with a mentor, you may continue to collaborate for the life of your business. That relationship can help you maintain a consistent approach to your business and help you gain the resources you need during every stage of business growth.
Mentors don’t cost anything except time. Most mentoring relationships are grounded in mutual respect, not money. You may find that you have a specific expertise need that requires compensation. Depending on the situation, it may be advantageous.
You can determine how often you need to meet with a mentor, whether it be every week, monthly, quarterly or even yearly. It’s when you feel the need to discuss a business issue.
Numerous sources of support in the Cape Cod Community:
SCORE: volunteers share their expertise through online and in-person counseling. You’ll have a primary counselor to guide you, but SCORE can also provide the range of expertise that you may need for your business over time. Contact them at www.capecod.score.org
Community Development Partnership on the lower Cape. Contact them at www.capedcdp.org Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) available at several locations on the Cape.
Contact them at www.msbdc.org/semass
Cape Cod Young Professionals at [email protected]