If you are new to running a business, or even if you’ve been at it for a while, you could probably benefit from finding a mentor to give you advice and insights from someone with a more proven track record.

"Because starting a business can be overwhelming, a mentor can help to navigate the complex challenges that often come with being a business owner," says Kathleen McShane, Senior Advisor to the SBA's Office of Veterans Business Development.1 "There are many factors involved in a business startup, from applying for licensing to securing financing. And those factors can have an impact on turning one’s passion into a profitable business. Getting guidance from someone who has been there themselves as an entrepreneur or business owner can be an added asset."

1. A Mentor Can Help You With Your Business Plan

A mentor has the most to offer when you are in the earliest stages of your business, because at this point your experience is at its most minimal. If you've never created a real business plan, a mentor can help you understand what is required, and they can help you avoid pitfalls that could impede your success later on.

2. A Mentor Can Help Prevent Mistakes

It's good to bounce ideas off a mentor before implementing them because they might have been through a similar situation in the past. They can help steer you away from ideas that aren't as good as you think they are, or at least explain why an idea is worth a second thought.

3. A Mentor Can Give You a Fresh Set of Eyes

Many problems are more easily solved with a fresh set of eyes, and when those eyes belong to a seasoned business veteran, a new layer of wisdom can be applied to the solution. If you have a question that you just can't find a satisfactory answer to, a mentor can help you come at it from a different angle or advise you on the best course of action.

4. A Mentor Can Help You Better Manage Finances

The financial aspects of running a business can be particularly daunting for new business owners, especially if they are not especially numbers-minded. Having an experienced mentor who has had to contend with cash flow issues, budget cuts, and fluctuating profits can give you helpful advice on how to deal with specific financial situations. They can help you better understand priorities and show you how to optimize your funds accordingly.

5. A Mentor Can Help You Build a Better Marketing Strategy

Properly targeting your marketing efforts is key to a more successful business, and a mentor can help here, as well. It doesn't necessarily matter if your mentor is from a different type of business.

As Felicia Brown at AARP notes, "It's a myth that a mentor must have experience in an industry related to yours. The truth is that successful marketing strategy and decision-making can be applied to any industry, particularly with regard to understanding and reaching the right customers."2

6. A Mentor Can Provide Advice Over Time

If you are able to establish a close relationship with a mentor early on, you can reap the benefits as time goes on and you face new challenges. No matter how long you stay in business, your mentor will be ahead of you in experience and will be able to provide guidance throughout different phases of your company's success.

Determine if you could benefit from a mentor, then look for organizations that specialize in this. SCORE, which is partially funded by the SBA, is a great place to start.3 If you know a good candidate personally, you can reach out to them to discuss whether they would be willing to mentor you. 

1. https://www.sba.gov/blog/mentoring-missing-link-small-business-growth-survival

2. https://www.aarp.org/work/small-business/info-2021/finding-mentors.html

3. https://www.score.org/