Building Your Business Becoming an Owner Entrepreneurship Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Business Mentor By Scott Allen Scott Allen Twitter Scott Allen is a media consultant and the former social innovation architect for General Motors. Prior to that, he worked independently as a social media strategist for 14 years, helping clients turn virtual relationships into real business. He co-authored two books: "The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online" in 2005, and "The Emergence of The Relationship Economy: The New Order of Things to Come" in 2008. learn about our editorial policies Updated on September 13, 2022 Fact checked by Yasmin Ghahremani Fact checked by Yasmin Ghahremani Twitter Yasmin Ghahremani has over two decades of journalism experience and is an expert on personal finance topics, including credit cards, insurance, and loans. As an Associate Editorial Director, she sets The Balance’s standards for evaluating financial services, which include assigning, editing, and fact-checking articles. learn about our editorial policies In This Article View All In This Article What Do Business Mentors Do? Benefits of Having a Business Mentor Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: filadendron / Getty Images The world of entrepreneurship is one filled with resources. From online publications, to peers, to friends and family, advice about starting and running a business abounds. But a dedicated business mentor with experience in your field can make the most impact on the growth of your business. A true mentor relationship is a two way street–your mentor gets to learn about new strategies from you, while you gain wisdom from them. On top of that, it’s a (usually) free resource to help you start and grow your small business. To make it work, however, you need to find and maintain a relationship with a business mentor, and a few tactics are key to that success. . Key Takeaways Mentors can be key to your business’s success by giving you insights from those who did it before you.You'll receive guidance based on real-world experience, connections to other advisors, and physical resources from your mentors to aid in your development. Aim to give as much as you receive, whether by picking up the tab or providing new strategies your mentor doesn't have experience in. What Do Business Mentors Do? Business mentors are a must-have in any entrepreneur’s toolbox, from the day-one business owner to the established CEO. Mentors are usually experts in their field, often bringing decades of niche, industry knowledge to their mentees. The key win of building a mentorship relationship is the unique and specific instruction you’ll receive. Far from the generic advice of online content or the well-meaning family member, mentors ground their advice in real-life experiences. A small UPS survey of customers found that 88% of business owners who reported having a mentor found it invaluable. Mentors motivate you through actionable guidance and resources. For example, you may go to a mentor asking for help on your financial statements. A good mentor will not only provide their experiences but also may provide templates and a referral to an accountant for the next steps. But mentors certainly gain from their interactions with mentees as well. Many guide eager entrepreneurs as a way to give back to their communities. Further, they may use the opportunity to instruct a younger business owner as a way to sharpen their teaching or consulting skills. Benefits of Having a Business Mentor Maintaining a relationship with a business mentor may be the most important step you take in building your venture. The benefits are numerous, but there are a few standout things that a mentor brings to the table. They’re an Ally You May Not Find in Your Company Your journey as an entrepreneur is one that may feel lonely and uncertain at times. Once you launch your business, there's no boss to turn to for advice or direction. Simply put, you are the boss, and you may not have any employees yet. Although you're flying solo, you don't have to be completely alone. A mentor can offer connection and support. Everyone needs a reliable sounding board, a second opinion, and emotional support when the times get tough (and they will). They've "Been There and Done That" Perhaps the most obvious benefit of finding a business mentor is that you can learn from their previous mistakes and successes. Your mentor's role is to share lessons from their experience in the hopes that you can learn those lessons with more ease. There’s no need to repeat the same mistakes someone else has made if they can guide you in a different direction. Note Mentors can play a variety of roles in your growth journey, and not all of them will bring the same expertise to the table. Some will be specific to your industry and others will be specific to a particular function (e.g., management, fundraising, or marketing). They’re (Usually) Free Finding and getting support in the early stages of your business is often limited by financial considerations. Coaches and consultants can offer things that a mentor doesn't, but it comes at a price that can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mentor relationships are usually accessible no matter your financial constraints. Mentors are readily available and free of charge through several organizations, such as SCORE, a network of volunteer, expert business mentors under the umbrella of the Small Business Administration. You can also find potential mentors through networking events, industry associations, or online sites like LinkedIn. If you do meet someone at an event, put your best foot forward and focus on building a relationship with them first—save the asks for later. Note Mentorship may be free but that doesn’t negate you from thanking them for their support. Depending on your financial situation, you can treat them to a meal or at least pick up their coffee if you meet in a cafe. Even sending a birthday message will be appreciated. You May Expand Your Social Network Being an experienced businessperson, your mentor is likely to have an extensive network across different industries and departments. They may offer you access to far more senior decision-makers than you currently have in your contacts, yet another benefit of a powerful mentor relationship. Many mentors would also be more willing to open that network up to you than to a casual acquaintance from a networking meeting. That’s why it becomes so important to maintain your relationship with a mentor—you don’t want to become a passing connection. This relationship should be advantageous to both of you, as opposed to you always receiving and never giving. You Can Build a Trusted, Long-Term Relationship Most mentors have no ulterior motive—no service or product to sell you. Combined with their experience and other qualities, that creates a foundation for trust that grows as the relationship develops. Your time with them also becomes more efficient as they become familiar with you, your business, and your learning style. Note Not all mentors are created equal and some may go into a mentor relationship with an agenda or the wrong intentions. Watch out for mentors who try to sell you their products in every session, push you to look into their services, or put a timeframe on your free mentor sessions. As you can see, the rewards of having a business mentor can be great and the risk is minimal if non-existent. You have everything to gain by finding and maintaining a relationship with a good mentor, one that gives as much as it takes. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Why are mentors important for an entrepreneur? Mentors are some of the most important people you can surround yourself with as an entrepreneur. You may be just beginning your journey and have yet to develop through experience. A mentor adds their expertise and prior knowledge to your repertoire, allowing you to skip some of the mistakes and, instead, focus on what works. How do you find a good mentor? Finding a good mentor may be hard but not impossible. You’ll want to take your time in identifying individuals that you feel comfortable opening up to and who fit a specific need you’re looking to fill.Start by researching different mentor organizations to put feelers out into the mentor ecosphere. Further, go to local networking events to mingle with the experts and get a sense of who you connect with. Updated by Rachel Leigh Gross Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Queensland Government. "Mentoring in Business." UPS. “The UPS Store Makes ‘Mentoring Month’ Matter for Small Business Owners.” Queensland Government. "Finding a Mentor Through Mentoring Programs."