A good mentor is an encourager who is passionate about your small business's success. Your mentor won't tell you what to do. Instead, he or she will actively listen to your ideas and work with you to make those ideas a reality. After you find the mentor who's right for you, there are several things you can expect to receive from the mentoring relationship:

  • Advice. Many small business owners find it helpful to recruit a mentor from within their industries. Although it's probably not a good idea for your mentor to be a direct competitor, a mentor from outside your geographic territory or market niche can help navigate industry-specific challenges and offer advice about strategies they have used to achieve growth in the industry. Advice from mentors with years of experience may help you avoid some of the mistakes they have already made.
  • Perspective. Whether you admit it or not, your emotional attachment to the business can cloud your judgment. Your mentor isn't personally invested in the business--they're invested in you. Your mentor brings an outside perspective to help identify your blind spots and help you make decisions that generate business growth.
  • Accountability. A good mentor asks hard questions and holds you accountable for following through on actions that will grow the business. To make the most of the mentoring relationship, look for a mentor who will challenge your decision-making rather than someone who simply agrees with everything you say.