How female small business owners can find the best mentors
For every small business owner, having a source of inspiration and advice is key to overcoming the challenges of running a small business.
Small business owners with a mentor are 70% more likely to succeed beyond five years than those without, so finding the right mentor is essential. They can help you remain goal-focused, maintain a work-life balance and make important business decisions.
Even better, mentors can instil the confidence you need to seek out new business opportunities, which will lead to all-important growth.
Here are five steps to finding a mentor who is right for your business.
1. Know what you’re looking for
Your friends or family may provide emotional support, but for a mentor you need a strategic, business-focused mind who will provide sound skills-based business advice and strategic thinking. Top of your ‘must-possess skills’ list should be subject-matter expertise or industry-specific experience. For example, a franchisee should seek out someone with prior success running a franchise.
Two heads are better than one, and getting another perspective is always useful – even if it’s simply to confirm your gut instincts were right. Women in business tend to err on the side of caution – which can lead to missed opportunities – so having a mentor confirm you are on the right track can provide the confidence to go through with big decisions.
Above all, marketing is key. So if you think marketing is your weak point, find a mentor who can help you kick those goals.
2. Investigate mentoring services
Plenty of subscription businesses have been developed specifically to provide mentoring services for women in business. Her Business, for example, has an insightful webinar on how mentoring can help your business. It also offers a regularly updated blog with tips and advice from Australia’s top women in small business.
Some mentoring services are subsidised by local or state government, making them a wise investment. For example, Queensland has a Small Business Entrepreneur Grants Program that gives small business owners access to government-subsidised mentoring and coaching, perfect for those needing help to move their business forward.
3. Attend networking events and conferences
The number of female business owners in Australia has exploded over the past 20 years, so there’s no shortage of successful women who may be able to guide you. Find them through networks like Women’s Network Australia and BPW Australia. Networking events are great opportunities to meet people in a similar industry, and, in particular, start talking to those who have more experience than you. Don’t try to force the relationship, though – you’ll know when a connection is solid. And when it happens, be sure to exchange phone numbers or email addresses.
Sites like Eventbrite showcase local networking events. Look for state-based events like Queensland Small Business Week and Spark Festival in New South Wales. Typically, these events include of a range of workshops, seminars and talks.
And remember: even the most unlikely connection could make a difference.
4. Take advantage of social media
Social media platforms, especially LinkedIn, are great for and developing connections made at events. Facebook sometimes works better for small business owners, and you can use Messenger to communicate directly. With LinkedIn, always keep your personal profile up to date and ensure you join a few business groups for the latest content and new ideas. You don’t have to start discussions or even contribute to them – often just reading threads provides a huge amount of insight.
You may find you’re naturally drawn to certain people you e-meet in these groups. If so, consider approaching them about a mentoring relationship in the real world. Investing time in a few meaningful relationships is better than hundreds of shallow connections.
5. Grow your personal network
Lastly, don’t forget your friends, co-workers and family. Those closest to you possess their own skills and experience you can tap into. Some people find they need to talk to think, so discussing ideas with friends and family might help you work out a plan.
Loved ones are the people who know you best, and they can provide the emotional and moral support every small business owner needs – especially in times of crisis! They are the ones who will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance, and they are often your most loyal customers.
Once you’ve decided on a plan to grow your business, call Prospa on 1300 882 867 or apply online for a small business loan.
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