It's no secret that owning and running a business can be demanding. For small business owners, every new challenge can make you feel like you're in it all alone—but it doesn't have to.
If you're a new business owner, consider finding a mentor. A mentor can help by sharing his or her experience in the field, especially lessons learned and things to avoid. What's more, mentors help provide a sense of community in the often-isolated small business world. Or, if you've found success as a business owner and want to share what you've learned with a grateful up-and-comer, consider mentoring.
Below are three sites committed to matching successful business leaders with small business owners seeking mentors.
MicroMentor is a free, online matching service that connects small business owners with business mentors. MicroMentor's mission is "to help small businesses grow faster, generate more revenue, and employ more people." Interested visitors set up a profile on the site with background information and goals and the site matches people based on business expertise and industry experience.
SCORE, part of the US Small Business Administration (SBA), calls itself the "premier source of free and confidential small business advice for entrepreneurs." The association offers an online Q&A section, in-person mentoring services, and local workshops. SCORE boasts more than 11,000 volunteers from a broad range of businesses including successful entrepreneurs and representatives from Fortune 500 companies.
Step Up Women's Network
Step Up Women's Network prides itself on being at "the cutting edge of women's social enterprise and philanthropy." Step Up Women's Network has a mentorship program designed especially for women business owners; entrepreneurs are matched with successful businesswomen for a six-month mentoring opportunity. The group also hosts professional development panels and workshops, and provides resources specifically designed to help women excel in business.
In addition to the above sites, you can take the initiative and find a mentor the old-fashioned way-by meeting like-minded people. Find networking organizations in your area, such as industry associations or college alumni groups and attend their meetings and workshops. Depending on your industry, seminars and trade shows can also be a great way to meet potential mentors.
Whether you've decided to become a mentor or seek one, mentorships can be an invaluable part of growing your small business and building your professional network.