Entrepreneurship

Why A Mentor is Key to Small Business Growth and Survival

November is proclaimed as the National Entrepreneurship Month. This is the time when U.S. entrepreneurs and small business owners are highly recognized for their great contribution to the country’s economy. This would not be possible if these companies don’t have the courage, determination, and innovation.

This is a great celebration for all entrepreneurs. But unfortunately, some of them were not lucky enough to survive. Based on the data from the SBA Office of Advocacy, among all small businesses, only half of them were able to survive for more than five years. Additionally, every year at least ten to twelve percent of all employee-based companies close down.

The good news is, working with a mentor can help these businesses in overcoming failures. This is proven to be effective. In fact, a mentor is considered as the game-changer for all types of small businesses.

Based on some research, small businesses that obtained three hours or more of mentoring have improved their revenues and business growth. Moreover, seventy percent of small businesses have survived for more than five years after obtaining the help of a mentor, based on a 2014 survey conducted by The UPS Store. This is twice as much as the survival rate for businesses that are not mentored. According to the same survey, 88 percent of small business owners agree that having a mentor is priceless.

Most people think that having a business of your own can be a bit challenging, according to W. Kenneth Yancy, the CEO of SCORE (a business mentoring organization.) It is not about chasing your dreams or passion anymore. However, having a mentor can help you in handling the multiple challenges that you will be facing as a business owner. Having an experienced person guiding you can be a great asset.

How Can Mentoring Help Your Business?

Having a mentor is very valuable to those who choose to manage their business by themselves. But how does it work? The owner of Cloth Interiors, Teri Cardinelli, has learned so many things from her mentors, and she puts these experiences to use. She started a part-time business from her own home in Kennebunk, Maine. But in 2012, after 25 years of operation, she turned her business into full-time. She also decided that she will no longer be operating in her home office.

Teri is very talented and possesses some technical skills. However, she is not knowledgeable about organizing the details of her business. So, she decided to attend two workshops provided by SCORE. One workshop is for marketing while the other is for finance. Aside from this, she also obtained some help from two SCORE mentors. Her mentors, Sandy Carlisle and Lisa Allison provide free and private advice for those who are still starting their business as well as those who have already existing businesses.

According to Sandy, Teri is an expert in her craft which is really important in her business. However, she is having difficulty when it comes to business management and marketing. This is something that SCORE can help her with.

With the assistance of SCORE, Cardinelli now knows how to make a plan for her business.  First of all, she discovered a good place then she managed her own bookkeeping, pricing, and agreements. After she has finished arranging everything, she was getting ready for her grand opening in May 2013.

She has achieved all of this while accomplishing his works, acquiring new clients, and exhibiting a stable income and reliable cash flow each month in 2013. Cardinelli revealed that right from the start, she was sure that she was on the right track. She obtained the experience that she needed to guide her in the right direction. With all the knowledge that she got, she has now more ideas. It has also helped her realized her true value to herself and to her clients. This is quite a lot. Because of the help that she obtained from Sandy and Lisa, she started to build her confidence and her business started to grow.

Should You Connect With A Mentor?

One month after its opening, the Seacoast Chapter of SCORE, nominated the Cloth Interiors of Kennebunk, Maine for its success story about how a small business has shown growth and build confidence through the help of mentors. It seems that the experience of Teri Cardinelli is just one of the numerous success stories that were made possible due to the help of SCORE. SCORE has more than 320 local chapters and over 11,000 volunteers who are experts in more than 61 industries. This means that small business owners can likely find their mentors that match to their industries. They can either connect to their mentor in-person or through email.

SCORE also offers business workshops and webcasts as well as business tools, templates, and tips which are either cheap or free. All of these are being sponsored by the SBA. You could also take advantage of the free email advice offered by SCORE. All you have to do is enter your question and a SCORE mentor will quickly assist you.

Are There Other Sources For Business Counseling and Support?

Aside from SCORE, there are other sources where you can get support or ask for a piece of advice. The following are some resources that can help in making your small business a success.

Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)

These institutions have helped over one million small businesses and hopeful entrepreneurs every year by providing them with free actual business consultation as well as inexpensive business training which covers business planning, methods in accessing capital, marketing their products, regulatory compliance, exporting their products, and a lot more. This is partly supported by the SBA. In the USA, these SBDCs have the widest network when it comes to offering small business assistance.

SBDCs can be found all over the U.S. In fact, when Lorena Cantarovici became interested in entrepreneurship, she participated in one of the business programs offered by the SBA Denver Small Business Development Center. Because of this, she was able to develop her own business plan. Lorena loves to create homemade empanadas until it became her small business.  After obtaining counseling from SBDC, she became knowledgable in marketing, accounting, legal issues, business risk management and much more. As more demands keep on coming, her business also keeps on growing. She first started her business in a transformed kitchen in her garage and as her business developed she moved into a storefront.

Women’s Business Centers

The main goal of these organizations is to offer business counseling, training, and other resources that could be valuable to women who aspire to start and develop successful businesses. WBCs have a close relationship with the SBA. Additionally, they can also offer some advice to women on the best strategies for business financing. For instance, how to acquire SBA loan programs.

WBCs can also help business owners who are willing to sell their products to the U.S. government. They could guide them and provide them with training resources to help them get started.

Veterans Business Outreach Centers

Just like the other organizations, these centers also offer business advice, training, mentoring, business planning, and any other type of business assistance that could be beneficial to the business owners. They are financed by the SBA and they currently have 16 centers all over the U.S. If you need any help with your business, then you can always reach out to them for help.

Can A Mentor Actually Help Your Business To Succeed?

If you are a business owner or an entrepreneur, then it is only natural that you would face all the obstacles, challenges, and complexities that will prevent your business from succeeding. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur then you need to have lots of self-confidence. The fact is, based on the report of Wasp Barcode’s “State of Small Business”, more than half of small businesses aspire their revenue to grow. However, only 30 percent of all new businesses will likely survive after a year. And after five years, this number is expected to increase to 50 percent.

The best solution is to work with a mentor. Aside from helping your business to succeed, having a mentor to lean on can make you feel compelling. Here are some of the reasons why having a mentor is critical.

The numbers will prove it.

As we’ve mentioned before, the success rate of mentored small businesses is far greater than those who are not mentored. There are some things that can help you succeed and having a mentor whom you can turn to for advice is just one of them.

A mentor can help you in discovering the weaknesses of your business plan.

As a business owner, most often you can become extremely attached to a specific business model. You believe that this is the best strategy to accomplish your business goals. A mentor can help you evaluate your original extent.

A mentor can help you decide whether your company requires some changes such as updating your outdated systems for new technology. With mentorship, you can always expect that there will be some criticisms and accepting this feedbacks can be beneficial to your company.

Mentorship can help you expand your network.

There are times that your mentor won’t be able to answer some of your questions. When this happens, they will try to connect you with someone who can help you. With a good mentor on your side, you can easily find clients, investors, contractors, and other people who can be valuable to your business.

It Is Still Your Business

Most often, entrepreneurs expect that their mentors will do the work for them. But this is simply a misconception. The mentor will be the one who will open the door, but the business owner must be the one who will walk through it. It works in both ways. It is still your business and the mentor won’t take it away from you. In fact, there are legal actions that you could do in order to protect your inventions or business secrets, when necessary.

Mentoring Won’t Cost You A Thing

Good mentors provide free advice. Generally, they don’t expect anything in return. That is why you should avoid wasting their time. Do not disturb them if you are capable of handling the situation. There should be mutual respect between the business owner and the mentor.

You Can Meet With Your Mentor Anytime

When it comes to meeting your mentor, there is no limit on how often or how long it will take. The only thing that is important is to meet regularly and to spend time wisely. Keep in mind that mentors have their own responsibilities too. So make sure that your meetings are productive.

You Can Easily Find A Mentor That Is Perfect For You

There are lots of ways of finding a mentor that is ideal for you and your small business. One of the most popular ways is to use government-sponsored mentor organizations including SCORE. Your peers can also be considered as mentors. You can also quickly find mentors in trade associations, and other types of organizations.

Mentors Can Keep You Ahead Of The Market

Any smart entrepreneur will tell you that having a mentor is beneficial to your business. It can even prevent you from experiencing bankruptcy. A mentor will help to be open to new ideas. They can provide new opportunities for your business as well as new clients.

Conclusion

Starting a business can be overwhelming.  That is why you need a mentor that can help you in navigating the complicated processes that are part of being a business owner. Starting up a business involves a lot of things from securing capital to applying for a license. That is why it would be beneficial if you could obtain some guidance from those people who have experienced being a business owner or an entrepreneur.

Additionally, there are available resources that can provide business owners with the guidance and skills that they needed in growing, developing, and sustaining their business. By connecting with a business mentor, you can enjoy a lot of benefits. At the same time, you can obtain the expertise that you need for your business. Since these mentors have real-life experiences then they can give you the best advice so you can avoid those pitfalls. At SBA, you can find several experienced volunteer mentors who can give you essential business advice, most often these are offered at no cost.

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James is the co founder of More Than Accountants an Online Accountants. He will be more than happy to help More Than Accountants clients implement any guides or strategies that he has posted to the blog. If you would like to learn more about becoming a More Than Accountants client you can quote online by using our Unlimited Accountancy Services Quoting Tool.

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