Where can I find a business mentor?

There are various ways to go about finding a business mentor. It all depends on your specific requirements, how much you are prepared to spend, and how much help you think you need.

At a very basic level, you may be referred to a mentor by a trusted colleague or fellow business owner who has used their services. You may consider approaching someone you know is running a successful business and will be prepared to spend some time with you.

It could be someone you have worked with in the past with a good reputation in a certain field (such as strategic planning or cash flow management). Alternatively, you may choose someone who is affiliated to an organisation that can vouch for his or her credibility and abilities.

If you are unable to pay someone for their services, there are a number of organisations and private companies who offer free mentoring. The fact that their services are free doesn't mean they're any less qualified. Some professionals become mentors to give back to their communities or to gain experience as a trainer or consultant.

Organisations that offer mentoring

Whether you need a mentor or think you'd like to be one, various professional associations and government organisations offer mentoring programmes. A couple of the organisations offering mentorship services - some for free and others at a fee - include:

  • Business Partners Limited Mentorship Programme: Business Partners Limited, South Africa's leading specialist risk financing company for entrepreneurs has a database of carefully selected mentors who have proven themselves successful in their businesses and careers, to provide a service of high standard and quality. All mentors subscribe to a code of ethics that ensure that the principles of integrity, good faith, confidentiality, impartiality, incorruptibility, accountability and professional conduct are adhered to.
  • The Business Place is a "one-stop shop" for emerging and existing entrepreneurs, with a cluster of relevant, affordable service providers. It's a business advice centre that advises entrepreneurs on how to proceed or refers them to a service provider as needed.

Many provincial government departments provide mentorship programmes in various industries, usually in conjunction with private companies. It's worth doing some research into your local government departments to find out what programmes they may offer.

If you are new to the small business environment, you have a lot to learn, so you may choose to start with one mentor and move on to someone with even more experience as your business progresses. This way, the person who agrees to mentor you in the beginning is tied to a long-term relationship. Also, if you are not comfortable with one person, don't hesitate to look for an alternative mentor.

Mentorship is all about learning, for you and your mentor. And it takes an open mind and trust on both sides to ensure a fruitful experience.

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