Finding a Trusted Business Advisor and Mentor

Updated on 6 May 2019

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Entrepreneurial skills that SME owners should master include becoming a modern marketer, understanding data and problem solving.

These are just some of the skills a business advisor and mentor can help a business owner to develop by providing critical strategic business advice and support, as well as guidance, motivation, emotional support and role modeling.

Below we answer the where, how and what to look for when finding the perfect business advisor and mentor

Before you get a mentor

1. Do your research
Look at a person’s track record and decide where you would need their assistance.

2. Know where you need the most help
Be realistic about how that person could help you and your business.

3. Don’t listen to everyone
Taking too much advice could be counter-productive in your decision-making process.

4. Manage your expectations
 You can expect a mentor to offer some perspective and inject some big picture thinking to your funding question, however they are not required to do the actual work required.

How to approach a potential business advisor or mentor

1. Ask specific questions
The important question to ask is whether the mentor has extensive experience for a particular area you need help with, for example, do they have experience raising finance for their own business, and if they have assisted other SMMEs to raise finance?

2. Confirm a mentor’s commitment.
Confirm that a mentor is willing to provide their time and support as they walk alongside you, at no cost. Mentors do not usually take fees for the guidance they offer.

What to expect from your mentor

  • A good listener
  • Commitment
  • Gives honest guidance
  • Has a learning mindset
  • Makes time to invest in a mentee

More on why these attributes are important, here.

How to get the most from your mentorship

1. Set expectations
Be specific on the guidance you require. Be clear on the insight you want to gain from a professional and personal perspective.

2. Focus on your long-term goals
Let your attention be on what you need to acquire in order to achieve these long-term goals.

3. Be on time
Be respectful and appreciative of your mentor’s investment in your career. Always arrive and respond in a timely manner to your mentor’s questions and comments.

4. Be open-minded and a constant learner
Ensure that you benefit from each mentor’s strengths and not try to evaluate or compare one’s advice against the other.

5. Put what you learn into practice
Apply at least some of your mentor’s ideas and suggestions and provide feedback on the impact and application of the suggestion.

Where to find mentors

  • Industry and networking events
  • Associations
  • Small business and entrepreneurial development centres
  • Social media networks
  • Seminars and conferences
  • Non-profit organisations
  • Colleges or universities

Full list of where to find mentors, here.

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