Starting a new business isn’t easy. In fact, many fail after a short time but is being a successful small business owner nothing more than a roll of the dice? Hardly. The reason business startups fail is because the new owner didn’t have the skills, experience, or capital needed to make their business a success. We’ll save the capital requirements for another time but how about skills and experience?
Although starting a business as an extension of your present profession is a wise idea, regardless of your level of skill in your product, if you’ve never ran a small business, it would be unrealistic to think that you would have the skills necessary to manage your business correctly.
You might already realize that and as a result, you have read everything you can and maybe even talked to friends or other contacts to set yourself up for success. Did you know that for the bargain price of free you can work with a mentor who will advise you along the way? Here’s how.
SCORE is an organization funded through the United States Small Business Administration. They have a national network of more than 12,400 mentors who are retired business professionals in all disciplines. SCORE places you with a mentor in your area and that person can put you in contact with any number of other mentors to help you. If you need a CPA or a marketing person, SCORE has them. Go to the SBA website to learn more about that program.
Many professional organizations have mentor programs as an outreach to gain exposure for the professionals who are members. Not all organizations offer this service but contacting their communications or education director is the best way to find out.
Look to your network. Who do you know who might be a perfect mentor? Do you know anybody in the industry you’re about to join as a small business owner who would be willing to help you? If your business isn’t close to opening its doors consider asking if they would allow you to intern with them. In exchange for spending time in their business, you will help them free of charge.
Mentoring is free and it’s easy to find, especially through the SBA. Don’t open your business without help. The best way to set yourself up for success is to learn from people who have already gone down the road you’re about to travel. Don’t turn away free help.