Running a successful small business might be professionally rewarding but it can also make you feel like you’re making decisions alone. Whether you’re planning to move into a new market or revising your growth strategy, the prospect of steering your business without guidance or support can feel like a serious challenge.
Suzi Dafnis is an entrepreneur and CEO of the Australian Businesswoman’s Network. She believes that business mentors can help you overcome obstacles, clarify your vision, and see you sail towards your goals. Here, she shares three top tips for finding the right mentor.
Make sure that you’re prepared
Although the right mentor can transform the way you conduct your business, mentorship is a two-way street. If you know exactly what you want out of the relationship and put in the groundwork to find out if your ideas are viable, you’re more likely to attract a mentor whose vision aligns with your own.
“It’s hard to find a mentor to guide you in the right direction if you haven’t done the basic work,” Dafnis says. “If you’re a new business owner, do some research to find out if your idea is sustainable so when you bring a mentor on board, you can focus on development and growth.”
Reach out to someone you admire
When it comes to finding the right mentor, think about the people whose professional trajectories you hope to emulate one day. From industry experts to those with a left-field approach to business, there’s a high chance that the leaders you admire share your values and goals.
“Approach people you know or admire to mentor you – for example, someone you’ve worked with, a respected thought leader or even a relative of a friend,” she suggests. “And attend seminars and training courses because these forums are great places to meet and find potential mentors.”
Cast your net wide
We often think that the right mentor is someone from within our industry but Dafnis believes that this is simply not the case. She says that many small business issues are common across sectors and that mentors with a different background can help you think outside the box.
“A smart, experienced mentor with business experience is likely to be able to help you, even if they’ve never worked in your specific niche,” she says. “A mentor from outside your industry is also likely to ask different questions than someone who may have spent years working within the same systems as you.”
From putting in the groundwork to connecting with someone you admire, finding the right mentor is easier if you think before you act.
Neha Kale is a freelance writer and editor who covers business, technology, arts and culture for publications in Australia and overseas.