January is the time for many to set New Year’s resolutions and entrepreneurs are naturally thinking of their business goals as well as personal goals. Not only is it a new year, but deadlines like taxes are on the horizon, and maybe that system you meant to put in place to make filing easier, just never happened. Or, perhaps you want to establish a concrete editorial calendar for your social media posts, do more networking, or have a better work life balance. Sometimes having another person to check in with gives you accountability. Plus being able to chat about your ideas with someone, makes all the difference when you’re working to meet your new goals. This is where a mentor comes in.
A mentor could be formal, such as a mentor and mentee match through Business Impact NW’s mentor program, or it could be informal—someone you connect with after meeting them at an event, through your business, or through an introduction.
But how, you may ask, can you best utilize a mentor to help you reach your goals in 2019?
- Be open to mentorship from all sources. The idea of one mentor who will guide someone through your business launch, growth, and beyond is great, but not always possible. People move, change careers, and have life changes that interfere with these kinds of long term relationships. Instead consider mini-mentoring: mentoring through a very set issue for a short period of time. For example, a mentor might take a mentee to their first networking event, helping a nervous business owner to connect with others in that setting for the first time.
- Try speed mentoring events, or mentoring meetups to see if it seems like a good fit for you. Business Impact NW hosts Build Your Network, Build Your Business, a quarterly mentor/mentee meetup.
- Set clear goals. The most effective mentor/mentee relationships needs clear boundaries. When you begin to meet, set 1-3 priorities to work on together to keep you focused. Remember to set “SMART” goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) that are a good fit for your unique mentor/mentee interactions.
- Don’t try to or ask them to do it all alone: a mentor might pull in other support to best help. This could be a business coach or other mentors. Make sure you have clear expectations around sharing information with others outside of the relationship.
- Consider online mentoring. Mentors and mentees don’t need to always meet in person. Online chat, email, or conference calls can be a great tool to connect with someone who doesn’t live close to you. A program like micromentor.org allows individuals to sign up with mentors from all over the United States.
- Consider co-mentoring: often times both individuals in the mentoring relationship end up sharing their knowledge and support with each other. This kind of connection is a wonderful way to support each other in your individual business’ growth, as well as your own personal growth.
- Join Business Impact NW’s mentor program. If you’re looking for a mentor, reach out to your business coach or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re a mentor looking to help, fill out our form at businessimpactnw.org/bynbyb.
About the author
Kerrie is a business coach and project manager for our clients located in the South King County area. She has previously worked for the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship and has a background in social services as well being a small business owner herself. She has an MBA in Sustainable Business with a focus on microenterprise development and sustainable food and agriculture.