Few mompreneurs have all the answers on how to start, run, and manage their businesses at the outset. And, as the company grows, more questions and new challenges can emerge to which they don't have answers. You may want to consider the role of mentorship in growing your business.
How Business Mentors Can Help
While there are many potential resources that can provide information—from paid consultants to small business agencies to websites—finding an experienced business mentor who can guide you through your whole entrepreneurial journey can be even more useful. Mentors keep the mompreneurs' best interests at heart at all times.
"An entrepreneur is often working on parts of the business that they know nothing about. Mentors can help by giving a 'been there, done that' perspective," explains Hayley Norman, managing partner at Metajourn and author of The Career Compass: Mentoring to Point You Toward Maximum Professional and Personal Growth.
"Mentorship can be even more valuable to women," Norman says. Women have been found to be more reluctant to exploit personal relationships for networking purposes the way men do, according to a Science Daily report.
Mentorship can support mompreneurs on a number of business fronts.
Offering Guidance and Information
Bethany Babcock, of Foresite Commercial Real Estate, met her business mentor, Chad Knibbe, while they were both working for a major investment firm. He agreed to mentor her for a year early in her career. After a year, he suggested they continue to work together as a permanent team.
It was Knibbe who recommended that Babcock start her own business, which would complement the investment firm's work and would give her the work-life balance she increasingly needed as a mom. Today, the business manages more than $100 million in commercial real estate assets and leases more than 1 million square feet of retail space.
Assisting in Problem-Solving
When Latasha Peterson started her business, the personal finance blog Arts and Budgets, she was overwhelmed and felt very alone. She had heard about Aja McClanahan of Principles of Increase and was impressed with her. The two entrepreneurs partnered on a webinar in early 2019 and soon after, says Peterson, McClanahan connected her with a mastermind group. McClanahan has also offered personal guidance in using Facebook ads. Thanks to McClanahan's mentorship, Peterson's subscribers increased by 30% in six months.
Business mentors often become champions and cheerleaders of their mompreneur mentees and can connect them with like-minded women and experienced entrepreneurs. This may include introducing them at industry conferences, setting up business lunches to connect them with potential clients or suppliers, and generally talking them up to others, to increase their credibility and familiarity.
Acting as a Sounding Board
Cassandra Shuck, CEO of Tola Marketing + Creative, met her business mentor at a networking event. Although she introduced herself and asked how she could help his business, he ended up becoming a mentor to her. "We do a lot of brainstorming and my mentor is essentially a sounding board who makes sure my ideas are grounded, profitable, and plausible." Having someone in her corner who has done what she's trying to do has been invaluable, Shuck says.
Helping Avoid Pitfalls
Because of their industry experience, business mentors frequently help their mentees sidestep potential problems, with guidance and advice about alternative strategies and tactics. Helping mentees find qualified employees, recommending lower-cost suppliers, and providing information about new technology or equipment that could overcome current challenges are just some of the ways mentors can help put mompreneurs on the path to success.
Where to Find a Business Mentor
To connect with potential mentors, go where successful people in your industry congregate. This may be at industry conferences, symposiums, trade shows, and other business events.
Shauna Stewart Douglas found her mentors through a number of avenues. The business consultant and founder of Permission to Profit found business mentors through the tech accelerator program she participated in, as well as through alumni networks and coaches. "I would not be where I am without the support of my mentors," she says.
"Successful people do not reach their goals alone. Behind even the most independent achiever is a person or group of people who helped that person succeed," says Ken Blanchard, co-author of One Minute Mentoring.
Best of all, this mentorship is free. Business mentors offer their advice and support at no charge, beyond a cup of coffee or a meal here and there. In addition to identifying an individual mentor, there are a number of other ways to get valuable business advice for free as you continue to develop your business as a mompreneur.