How do I find a business mentor?

How do I find a business mentor?
Emma Jones
Emma JonesFounderEnterprise Nation

Posted: Thu 15th Oct 2020

One of the most common questions I get asked by Enterprise Nation members is 'how do I find a mentor to help me start and grow a business?'

Please read on for my four-step reply!

Know what you're after

Before looking for a suitable candidate, assess what it is you're really after.

Do you want a sounding board? Someone to whom you talk out loud with your challenges and opportunities and formulate your own answers as they listen? Or do you want someone to tell you how to run the business?

These are quite different requirements and will lead to different people. The sounding board is a good listener, while the guiding coach is more of an action-oriented adviser.

You'll also want to think about whether you're prepared to pay for the services of a business mentor, or if you're after conversation or advice for free (or in exchange for a cup of coffee/pizza/glass of wine.)

The answer to this will influence where you look. Know what it is you're after, and what you're prepared to pay, before starting the search.

If you're an Enterprise Nation member, book in for free consultations with hundreds of business advisers. Not a member? Join today!

Go looking

When it comes to finding your perfect match, head online to services such as the Enterprise Nation adviser matching and out to events (we run hundreds of events for you to pick from!).

If you've identified that an industry expert offering practical tips is what you're after, find them by attending industry events or getting involved in interest groups on LinkedIn.

If you're looking for more of the sounding board mentor, the chemistry has to be right, so better to meet this type of person face to face and build the relationship from there.

There are thousands of experienced executives and entrepreneurs who have the potential to become mentors, and programmes such as the Mayor of Birmingham's Mayor's Mentors are focused on expanding the size of the mentor pool. Tap into them to keep updated.

Set targets

This step is primarily for business owners who have decided to pay for the services of a business mentor.

As with any commercial relationship, you'll want to set targets on what you expect to achieve.

Agree how often you'll speak (will this be in person, via video, on the phone?), for how long will the relationship last, and what outcomes you expect. Ideally write this down in the form of a mentor agreement, so expectations are clear from the outset.

Move on!

In my own experience, I've found that mentors are not for life! As the business – and indeed your own leadership skills, develop – you may find it's time to move on and find another business mentor with a different outlook.

Hopefully your first mentor experience, and the above steps, will stand you in good stead to make one wise move after the next.


Help to Grow: Management - one-to-one mentoring

Help to Grow: Management

A government programme to help 30,000 business leaders improve productivity and growth. Includes a 90% funded, 12-week training course then a period of one-to-one mentoring from experienced business leaders and mentors.

Sign up today

Emma Jones
Emma JonesFounderEnterprise Nation
Following a degree in Law and Japanese, Emma joined international accounting firm Arthur Andersen, where she worked in London, Leeds and Manchester offices and set up the firm's Inward Investment practice that attracted overseas companies to locate in the UK. In 2000, bitten by the bug, Emma left the firm to start her first business, Techlocate. After 15 months, the company was successfully sold to Tenon plc. The experience of starting, growing and selling a business from a home base gave Emma the idea for Enterprise Nation which was launched in 2006 as the home business website. The company has since expanded to become a small business membership community of over 75,000 people who benefit from events and support: online and in person. Enterprise Nation also presents a campaigning voice to government and the media on behalf of its members. In 2021, Emma was awarded a CBE for services to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

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