The One Relationship that can Determine Your Success

What exactly is a mentor?

A mentor is a person in your life who provides guidance. An ideal mentor is authentic, engaging, available and in-tune with your goals and needs. They are where you want to be, and they use their experience to help you get there.

Why do you need one?

When you are a fledgling entrepreneur, you are charting your own path. It is a bold, brave and exciting move. It is also full of obstacles you can’t see yet.

  • You get the benefit of their experience
    Your mentor has been, there done that. They have encountered the obstacles you will face and can tell you where they are and how to get around them. They share with you the steps they took to find success, and ideally, their failures. They pass their lessons on to you, to make your experiences a little easier, a little less lonely and a lot more informed.
  • A mentor can instantly expand your network
    When someone is in the position to act as a mentor, they likely have a substantial network accrued from years of business practice. Your mentor should be invested in your success and will tap into their network to help you reach your goals.
  • A voice of encouragement… and reason
    When you start a venture, one thing you can do to help your future self is identify your cheerleaders. Your mentor is meant to be your loudest cheerleader when you need it most. Additionally, they will level with you when you need some perspective on how to tackle certain goals and whether the timing is right.
  • It works
    According to SBA, 30 percent of new businesses may not survive past the first 24 months, and 50 percent of those may not make it past five years. However, 70 percent of mentored businesses survive longer than 5 years.

How to Find a Mentor

Before you seek a mentor, know your goals. Start by doing a SMART goal exercise to break down your business dreams into approachable steps. 

Next, make a list of businesses that you would like your business to look like. Reach out to those business owners informally to introduce yourself (if you don’t know them already) share your goals and get to know their business journey better. 

Once you find the right fit, make your ask concise, outlining your goals and why you feel they would be a good mentor for you. Be clear about your time commitment and expectations. Remember, the worst thing someone can say is, “no,” and if that is the case, you can ask them to recommend a mentor in their network. 

Additionally, SCORE has a vast mentor network in which participants are matched with an appropriate mentor based on their goals, needs and experiences.