Many of us have mentors and some of us are mentors. Are you considered a leader in your community or industry but not a mentor yet? Have you considered being one? There are many organizations from the Small Business Association to your local chamber or networking organization that look for mentors to help new or struggling businesses. If you’re wondering if you really are the right person to help someone as a mentor, here are a few things you may be able to offer.
Share your knowledge of the market
This doesn’t necessarily mean mentor someone who is competing against you but if you have a specialty pet shop and there is a new groomer looking to grow her business, reach out and offer your insight into the pet owner’s behavior in the area. Help grow their business and chances are good they will send their customers to you when they are asked.
Share your marketing insight
You’re now marketing your business successfully. You’re seeing the ROI on the advertising you’ve invested in where you want it to be. You may also have learned where not to spend your marketing dollars. Help guide that entrepreneur in the right direction. Share the knowledge you’ve learned from experience and why those outlets did or didn’t work for you.
Share your vendors
Every business needs suppliers and vendors for everything from equipment leasing to janitorial supplies or services. You’ve established relationships and know the right people for that new small business to contact. Not only will you be helping your mentoree but you’ll also end up with a grateful vendor who may reward you in some way.
Share your support
We all know that part of being in business is failing sometimes. Everyone who has started a business or tried something new in their business fails from time to time and it feels miserable. Sometimes a small business owner just needs to be supported with encouragement or even a similar story of how you learned from an experience like theirs.
Share your time
As a business leader or owner, your time is one of your most valuable assets. Most people who are looking for a mentor understand that what you are doing for them takes away from your business and they will value your time. The mentoree will respect the use of your time and hopefully in the future share their time just like you are sharing yours.
Being a mentor is all about sharing. In the small business community we can support each other by sharing knowledge, experience, vendors and support in so many different ways. Consider reaching out the next time you hear someone in your networking group who is looking for some guidance or offer to volunteer with your local chapter of the SBA. The rewards that come back to you for volunteering and helping someone far exceed your costs.