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Small Business Mentorship

Web site: The Hartford

Material excerpted from: Business Management Mentorship

As a small business owner, you already know it can be lonely at the top. Sure, you’re enjoying the many perks of entrepreneurship. And you get to call all the shots. But if you’re like most business owners, there’ll be times when you wish you had the ear—and the wisdom—of someone who’s experienced the same entrepreneurial growing pains you’re going through.

That’s where having a great business mentor can make all the difference. Eighty-six percent of CEOs surveyed in a Vistage study credit their mentors with playing a critical role in their career accomplishments. And a recent report by MentorcliQ found that 84% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs. The report also found that, on average, Fortune 500 companies that offered mentoring programs saw better profits during the COVID pandemic.

What Is Business Mentorship?

A business mentor is an experienced entrepreneur who takes a more inexperienced business owner under their wing. The best business mentors are people who have been where you’re at right now. They’ve faced similar challenges, learned from their early mistakes, and want to give back to their community by mentoring others in the earlier stages of their business.

Your business mentor isn’t the same as a business coach. You hire a business coach, for a fee, to counsel you through specific problems and issues. A business mentorship, on the other hand, is more like a business friendship. It’s a relationship that develops through time. And it’s usually free, although there are organizations that offer business mentorship programs for a fee.

Benefits of Small Business Mentorship

Your business mentor has stood in your shoes on the entrepreneurial journey. This means they can give you access to the business experience you do not have yet. With a good business mentor, you can:

• Get emotional support

• Obtain guidance and advice

• Bounce off big ideas

• See a fresh perspective

• Expand your network

The Business Mentorship Relationship

What does a good mentorship relationship look like from the inside? While it might be tempting to treat your mentor like a ready-made solution to whatever business issue you’re facing, “relationship” is the key to having a successful business mentorship.

Effective business mentorship is a two-way street. It may not seem like it, but your mentor gets as much out of the relationship as you do. While you benefit from their years of experience and supportive ear, they profit from the opportunity to experience new challenges through you and your business and to give back to the community.

Characteristics of effective mentors and mentees

Not just anyone will be a good mentor, though. An effective mentor has not only relevant industry expertise but should want to share that expertise with you. And good mentors are also good listeners who treat the people they’re mentoring with respect.

In return, you want to embody the qualities of a good mentee to help you get the most out of the mentoring relationship. For example, in addition to taking charge of your own learning, a good mentee should also have realistic expectations about what they’ll get out of the relationship. And since your mentor is most likely volunteering their time to mentor you, it’s also important to be respectful of their time.

What a good business mentor relationship looks like

When you enter into a business mentorship, your goal is to build a long-term relationship that’s based on mutual trust and respect. It’s not a one-off thing; this means you and your mentor need to meet and connect on a consistent basis that works with both of your schedules.

And your mentor is there to guide you and give you advice—not tell you what to do. Their goal isn’t to create a “mini business me” to follow in their footsteps. Entrepreneurship is all about learning by doing, and the key is to make your own, unique way forward, supported by your mentor’s guidance and wisdom.

How to Find a Business Mentor or Business Mentorship Program

So who are these experienced business owners willing to take the time to mentor others, and how do you go about finding them? Once you start looking, you’ll see that free business mentorship opportunities are everywhere.

• Your networks

• Service Corps of Retired Employees (SCORE)

SCORE is a nonprofit organization partnered with the Small Business Administration to offer accessible business mentorship to small business owners. The SCORE business mentorship program maintains a large network of experienced business people who volunteer their time to act as business mentors.

• SBA business mentorship

• Small business mentorship programs

• Industry conferences

• Local networking events

The entrepreneurial road can be a bumpy one filled with numerous wins as well as corresponding risks. With a business mentor by your side, you’ll be able to tap into the support and guidance you need to grow your business to the next level.

Call your Trusted Advisor at Hometown Insurance to review your business insurance at 1-800-568-SAVE (7283) or contact us by email at for helpful information.

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