Jake Croman | 5 Ways Small Biz Owners Can Find a Great Mentor
5 Ways Small Business Owners
Can Find a Great Mentor
J A K E C R O M A N
Why Have a Mentor?
Small business owners need a good mix of independence, self-confidence, and
determination to succeed. But these traits are also impediments that can lead to business
struggles. At some point, you’re going to need guidance from an experienced professional if
you want to avoid failure.
Mentorships are crucial ways that entrepreneurs can build a greater sense of self-
awareness. Whether you’re a new entrepreneur or a seasoned professional, a mentor can
help you navigate pitfalls.
In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration reports that 70% of mentored small
businesses survive more than five years, double the time compared to small businesses
without mentors. In a 2014 UPS study, about 88% of business owners said that having a
mentor is an invaluable business asset.
If you’ve identified the ideal mentor,
don’t worry about whether they’re too
busy. Many mentors will be stretched
for time, but you’ll likely want a mentor
who’s successful with a generally full
schedule to help you grow. Don’t be
afraid to ask for help and prepare a
straightforward pitch. If you need help,
you don’t have much to lose.
A great way to identify mentors
is to attend networking events.
If you have a hard time finding a
connection, try connecting with
someone through LinkedIn or
the Small Business
Development Centers which
are independent organizations
that offer expertise, resources,
If you want to appeal to a
mentor, put yourself in the right
light. Introduce who you are and
what your goals are for success.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what
you want from the mentor; being
straightforward can help you
save time and help you both plan
out your commitments.
If you’re contacting
another small business
owner, chances are
they’ll be busy with many
different projects. Many
busy entrepreneurs like
Keep it simple and short. In your
introductory email, get to the point. Tell
the person why you’ve identified them
specifically, so explicit request for time
and the desired outcome will likely be
greeted with a positive response than a
vague request for coffee. Once you get
comfortable with them, ask plenty of
Part of the reason to secure a mentorship is
to grow and learn. You won’t evolve if you
ignore your flaws or stay ignorant about
different aspects within the business sector.
Choose a mentor that offers a different way
to look at business. Chances are that you’re
ignorant about some type of business insight.
Find a mentor that will challenge your
everyday thoughts or operations and show
you different ways to approach problems...or
a solution you never knew existed.
It’s good decision to balance your
outlook and actions with a bit of
pragmatism and empathy. In fact, many
business leaders need empathy to
understand various perspectives in
business negotiations. If you don’t agree
with every business practice or subject
then at least you’ll help understand
another’s perspective. A mix of empathy,
know how, and a steadfast mindset can
help your personal brand and help you
Many professionals suggest
making as many connections as
possible within your industry.
Experts like Carolyn Everson, the
global head of marketing solutions
at Facebook, suggest that a board
of advisors will help guide you in
different areas of your career.
Not everyone is an expert on
every single aspect of business.
Chances are your mentors are
still learning some aspects of
business too. It’s necessary to
build relationships with many
mentors to learn from different
backgrounds and experiences to
help shape your business goals.
Relationships are built upon mutual respect
and giving. A mentorship relationship is no
different. Try to make the experience
positive for your new mentor. Perhaps, you
could ask them how you could offer to their
business venture in return for experience
or maybe you could help promote their
business in some way. You might want to
ask your mentor what they may like in
return from your meeting.
Many mentors may take the
charitable approach and say they
only wish to help someone succeed.
But don’t assume that’s always the
case. There can be some way to help
support their business in return and
create a positive career experience
for you both. In addition, the best
mentorships grow organically. So
stay committed to your interactions
and offering support over time.
Gaining a mentor early in your career can be a highly valuable
way to define which direction to pursue. Some people may seek
out mentorships formally rather than organically, but take time to
identify some peers and colleagues that can offer guidance. Either
they may act as your mentors or they can give you a good
reference. And in the small business community, it may not be too
hard to find.
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