Why your business needs a mentor

Access to finance may be vital when starting a business, but access to mentoring is equally valuable

While access to finance is vital when starting up, what is often forgotten is how useful a good mentor can be to the success of your business.

Vicki Bustard, who launched her outdoor educational space for children Plant and Play Wildlife Garden with the help of a Start Up Loan, was offered, like all recipients, a business mentor; of the mentoring aspect of the scheme Vicki said:

“I am pretty certain that without mentoring and support my business start-up would’ve taken a lot longer and been a much more stressful process. I would certainly recommend that anyone starting their own business uses the skills and support that their mentor is there to provide.”

We spoke to Elsa Caleb, a Start Up Loans business advisor, about the advantages of a mentor and how you can get the most out of a meeting with your mentor.

What Does a Mentor offer?

Experience: Mentors are often someone who has ‘been there, done that’. They have a wealth of experience to fall back on which will allow them to identify pitfalls and positives in your business that you may not have considered. This will prevent you from making needless mistakes, saving time and money in the process.

Seeing the Bigger Picture: Working with a mentor allows you to be alongside someone who looks at the bigger picture and can identify potential obstacles to business development early on. When you work on your business all day, everyday, it is easy to lose perspective – a mentor can provide an alternative viewpoint.

Savings: The advice and experience a mentor has is extremely valuable and utilising this can make a real difference to your business. A mentor can help you make the most out of your resources and avoid damaging decisions. This gives your business the best chance of success and will help you save time and money in the process.

Find out more about getting a loan to start a business – with a mentor – here

How to make the most out of a meeting with your mentor

Be Prepared: Being prepared is key to a productive meeting with your mentor. A mentor is not there to provide all the answers and create a business strategy from scratch. They are there to have an open discussion about your ideas and how future plans will develop as a result.

Be Open: Being realistic, open and honest with your mentor will allow a positive and productive relationship to form. When looking for guidance and support, you should be willing to learn and take on advice.

Set Goals: Following each meeting it is important to come away with a clear set of goals and objectives. This will give you and your mentor something to measure your businesses performance against. It will also help you identify which ideas and decisions have worked and those that haven’t, enabling you to learn and keep on improving. Constantly assess where you are, especially in periods (January, perhaps) when trade drops off.

Meet Often: Make time for your mentor. Regular meetings will allow you to measure progress and ensure you are on target to achieve your goals. It is advised you receive mentoring for an hour a month in the first year of your business. Even if things are going well, a mentor can still provide useful guidance and support.

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