69% of SMEs have heard of mentoring yet only 5% have used a mentor in the past 12 months.
With National Mentoring Day nearly upon us, it’s a stat that has made me wonder why so few startups and businesses are making the most of mentoring?
Because for me, mentoring has been the difference between success and failure.
I have friends, peers, family and even strangers to thank for getting me through some of the toughest challenges in my business and showing me opportunities I wouldn’t have been able to see for myself.
They’ve picked me up off the floor without judgement and helped me dust myself off and get back in the ring.
After all, a mentor is someone who’s been before you, experienced the trials and tribulations and can share wisdom and support knowing exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes.
Having spoken to fellow entrepreneurs, it has become clear to me that one of the main reasons people don’t find a mentor is because they’re not sure where to look for one.
1. Fellow entrepreneurs from your personal network
My aunt was the first family member to mentor me, having run a successful bar and cafe in Nottingham with my cousin.
When I was just starting out and considering various business models, it was she who helped me put a business plan in place and run the numbers based on the assumptions and research I’d done for other businesses.
This helped me realise that an idea I had wasn’t financially viable, saving me so much time and money going down a path that would have been fruitless.
I also found over the years that other entrepreneurs were a wealth of wisdom and always willing to help. Some I met through networking groups, others in online communities and forums.
Is there anyone in your family who runs, or has run, a business? They’ll have a wealth of knowledge and as they’re close to you, I’m sure they’d be delighted to offer their advice.
2. Local business development organisations
The Government has various funding initiatives designed to support organisations and help them to grow. From pre-start and start-up incubators to regional development support, there’s something for every type of business.
I found a mentor in Amanda Geel, who’s part of the Coast 2 Capital Growth Hub. I met Amanda at a networking event she ran locally and she followed up with meetings and emails to help me develop a key service I offer.
This was completely free and helped me make thousands of pounds in my business.
I caught up with Amanda to find out what she would like people to know about mentoring.
“Mentoring is about offering listening, support, and guidance. I’m there to help the person progress faster with their business aspirations and I love meeting new, interesting people… I always learn something from my mentees too!”
She also told me that she wishes people understood that “mentoring doesn’t have to be a formal process. You can learn from a supportive colleague at work, a family friend, a relative. And, people are very generous with their time and expertise, given the opportunity… the open hand is one to seize!”
Have you looked into what local business mentoring is on offer? You can usually find out about organisations through the Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Business, and they’re often free or subsidised. Or you could put a shout out at via our Facebook community?