Finding a Business Mentor
A business mentor is not a consultant or a coach. A mentor is also not a business partner. A business mentor is an expert who listens to you and gives support and advice. A mentor knows what you’re going through and can keep you focused on your goals. Business mentoring can therefore make a big difference to your enterprise.
Someone You KnowYou may be lucky enough to already know someone willing to mentor you. If so, make it clear that you don’t want to take advantage. Agree a set of ground rules so you can both benefit in a positive way.
If you don’t know a business mentor, however, the following may help.
Paid Mentoring ServicesYou can easily find paid mentoring services in the UK. It’s wise, though, to first work out what you want from the mentoring process.
Write down what you expect from a mentor. Also decide how many times you’ll want to see the mentor, and whether phone or email contact can meet your needs.
Then set your budget. A paid mentor is a business service like any other.
Free MentoringYou may be able to use free mentoring services. These have set criteria, so you will need to meet these first.
RegionalYour Regional Development Agency (RDA) has details about free mentoring in your area. Your RDA may refer you to an Enterprise Support Organisation (ESO) to meet a business adviser.
For other local help, check the Internet or ask at your library for mentoring programmes.
The PRIME Cymru Mentoring Scheme, for example, operates in North Wales. The scheme has a group of mentors who can give one-to-one support to entrepreneurs who are aged 50 and over.
In Manchester, the Centre for Enterprise at the Metropolitan University has a mentoring scheme. You may wish to check your own local universities as they may offer similar help.
NFEAThe NFEA is the UK’s national enterprise network. One of the services of the NFEA is business mentoring.
The NFEA uses a network of local enterprise agencies and support bodies. In 2008, NFEA members helped entrepreneurs with more than 100,000 business proposals and 25,000 start-ups. They also gave support to 130,000 businesses that were already up and running.
Female EntrepreneursTheNextWomen business magazine runs an annual mentoring scheme for female entrepreneurs. If you have a start-up business, you can apply to be part of the scheme. Once successful, you get six monthly meetings with a female entrepreneur. You can also contact the mentor by phone or email.
Young EntrepreneursIf you’re a young entrepreneur, Shell LiveWIRE has an online forum that gives mentoring advice. The service can help you reach experts in various fields.
The Prince’s Trust can find a business mentor for you. Simply contact the Trust and ask for its help. The Trust also provides money and other forms of support to entrepreneurs aged 18 – 25. The age limit rises to 30 if you have a disability.
Young Enterprise has schemes that can help you run your own business. Through your own work and ideas, you’ll learn about the commercial world.