There are a number of ways to find a mentor, most people know someone that they have seen start and run a successful business. Most of the time, people are honored to be asked to be a mentor and even if they can't make a long term commitment, they will be willing to spend some time answering questions and taking a phone call here and there. If you don't personally know someone who could mentor you, there are a number of places to look.
- Government-Sponsored Mentorship Organizations - You might be surprised, but the government offers a great deal of free resources and services to support small business owners, both online and locally.The following are some organizations you can reach out to:
•Small Business Development Centers: Provides management assistance to current and prospective small business owners.
•Women’s Business Centers: Provides business training, counseling and other resources to help women start and grow successful businesses.
•Minority Business Development Centers: Part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency was created specifically to foster the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in America, with more than 40 centers nationwide.
- Trade Associations - Many trade associations operate mentor/protégé programs that provide guidance to help you build your business. These mentoring programs are often conducted through a combination of formal one-on-one mentoring sessions and group networking and discussion opportunities with fellow protégés. Business owners might be connected with several different mentors over a period of several months to gain a more holistic experience.
Most industries are represented by trade associations, as are genders, ethnic groups and business types. If you need help finding a trade association, consult any Internet search engine.
- Local Colleges/Community and State - I personally feel that utilizing local schools is a no-brainer, do it! If you can't enroll in a business class or two, contact the business department and find out which professors would be willing to mentor a local entrepreneur. If you can make time to take a class, it's the perfect way to not only learn something new, but to build a rapport with the professors and other students some of which will likely be business owners.