Starting a business can be a lonely and daunting time for any entrepreneur. Your idea has been ‘approved’ by friends and family. What’s next? Decisions need to be made and the way forward established, but how will you know if you’re on the right track? Who’s going to help?
You have reached the point where guidance from an experienced business mentor is essential. It's a well known fact that businesses that seek help are more likely to survive and be successful.
A mentor will not provide you with technical advice, as that is the role of an expert business advisor. They will instead offer you a fresh perspective and help you see things that others cannot.
Challenging your thinking
Mentors don’t answer all your questions nor make decisions for you. They will help you to overcome self-doubt and provide you with confidence. A good mentor will give sound, impartial and unbiased advice. Often, a mentor is simply a sounding board, letting you arrive at your own conclusions.
A mentor can help you to think about your business in a more strategic way. It can be difficult to step out from the day to day running of the business and make time to work on the business. Time which you have set aside for mentoring will allow you to set goals and plan how you will achieve them.
Mentors have usually been operating in the business world for years and will have a wide network of contacts. Introducing you to their trusted network can help to fast-track your start-up. This can be invaluable if you are operating in a niche marketplace. Remember that quite often it's who you know and not what you know that helps to open doors!
One of the tricky bits is to get a good ‘match’ – the relationship between mentor and mentee needs to be right. A mentor may not have direct experience in your particular market and that isn’t always essential. Mentors share the experience and wisdom gained from setting up their own businesses. As well as the knowledge that they have gleaned from mentoring other start-ups.
Learning from others’ mistakes - rather than your own - has got to be indispensable! So when it comes to starting a business, don’t be afraid to seek and accept the help which is readily available to you.
ByGreg Thomas, director at MiVentures