Do you have a strong vision for where you’d like to be, but need help in executing it? Finding a mentor for your social enterprise is something that so many people overlook; but it could make all the difference between your enterprise succeeding or failing.
When you get a mentor for your business, you’re essentially allowing somebody more experienced than you to provide you with insight and advice on your business. Their years of business wisdom can bring you fruitful knowledge to help your enterprise grow in the right direction.
There’s a few things to consider to ensure you choose the right mentor:
Purpose: What’s your purpose for finding a mentor? Is it help with your accounts, advice on hiring employees or just someone who you can call for positivity and motivation? Whatever your aims, be clear with your mentor at the outset. Also think about how you can provide value for them in return. Do you have any skills or offerings you could provide as an exchange?
Experience: How much experience has your mentor had in your chosen field? For example if you’re looking to set up a social enterprise cafe, look for mentors in the catering industry. It’s a bonus if they have got social enterprise or not for profit experience, but experience in the industry is invaluable. They’ll be able to give you expert advice on marketing and growing a business of this nature. However, make sure that they aren’t in competition with your business, and that there’s not a conflict of interest.
Personality: Personality is hugely important when it comes to working with a mentor. Ideally, your mentor should be someone you can get along well with, have a laugh with, but most importantly, trust. You’re going to be sharing your challenges and successes with this person, so it’s crucial that you can take them along with you on your journey.
Connections: Consider not just your mentors background, but also what is known as their ‘sphere of influence’. Most people are connected to many other important influencers, and someone you may not see as terribly successful may have a fantastic network base and a large amount of contacts to showcase your business to. Have a look at who they’re connected to on LinkedIn, and who they might be able to introduce you to.
Location: How ‘hands-on’ would you like your mentor to be? If they are a busy person, would monthly video hangouts work for you, or would you like to meet them in person for a coffee once a week? The location and availability of your mentor will determine what kind of a relationship you will have and develop.
Finding a mentor: First, have a look around at who you already know, and people you have met in the past. It’s always better to develop an organic relationship with someone you already know rather than a total stranger. Network at industry events, meet local business traders, and you will soon find that person who will be an endless source of encouragement and support.
For more tips on finding a mentor, check out UnLtd. They offer mentoring opportunities and support from mentors, as well as Business in the Community. Virgin Unite also has additional tips on finding the right mentor.