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Mentor A New Business? What’s In It For Me?

Have you ever considered mentoring a new business? You might want to try it! Because a funny thing happens when you help another business expand its potential – you will expand your own!

Just as volunteers often claim that they received so much more than they gave, mentors also assert the same. You might ask, “Why mentor? What’s in it for me?” Plenty! The rewards are numerous, and the new alliance might lead to new opportunities also!

What Does A Mentor Do?

A business mentor or business coach will counsel or guide a new business, and assist in the business owner’s professional development. As a mentor, you will become a “support system,” ensuring that the new business has more opportunities to survive during those first critical five years.

Primarily, you will guide the new business through the numerous questions and challenges that arise when a new business opens. At times, the new business will need information; at other times, just encouragement.

I once mentored a new business owner whose new store was down the street from my own. I decided that I was discouraged at the many store closings in my store’s district and that I would do something constructive about it. So I approached the district’s business association with a “mentorship plan” that would pair new businesses in our area with more established businesses. We asked for volunteer “coaches” and we drew up a list of interested businesses. Each time a new business opened, our business association “paired” the new business with an established business.

It’s such a practical solution and so easy to implement!

Some Guidelines That Work!

The relationship that forms must be based on trust, respect, and confidentiality! Establish some strict guidelines early in the relationship.

1. Confidentiality and trust – Both business owners (and staff) must ensure that all matters, questions, and challenges are in the strictest confidence. Agree that certain topics are not discussed. For instance, actual sales and profits are taboo. (It is one thing to talk about “how to increase sales and profits,” but definitely another thing to state your company’s annual sales!)

2. Since privacy is an important issue, you should also agree not to discuss customers’ details. Again, discuss how to “acquire” more customers; just do not discuss the actual customer!

3. Schedule bi-monthly meetings (over dinner) and come prepared with questions and concerns. Meet at a local restaurant – the local restaurant will appreciate the business. Meet for one hour and make it count.

4. Introduce the new business owner to other businesses in the area, and encourage the new business to join the local business association and become involved in committee work. In turn, your business will expand its own network through the new alliance.

5. Keep in mind that the new business owner’s success ensures the area’s success! Simply, it benefits all of us when new businesses thrive!

The mentor relationship is a rewarding and beneficial one. In the long-term, your own business acumen will grow. You will learn to re-assess your own strategies, when you are discussing another business owner’s strategies. When you help someone else develop their business vision, you will affirm your own company’s vision. When you answer questions regarding a new marketing plan, you will question your own marketing plan.

What’s in it for me? Plenty – a new alliance, a broader network, an affirmation of my business plan, and a potential for growth – as a business AND as a business owner.