Mentors are a massive help in business, but all too often we meet business owners who just don't know where to find one. This guide will introduce you to the main places you can look, and you can find out more detail about everything mentioned in this guide in this feature, which also explains what to do once you've identified a potential mentor.
Ask friends, family, old colleagues, former bosses and business contacts if they know anyone with relevant experience. You can approach people you already know too - just be aware that the relationship will become more business-centric and people can behave very differently in work-mode than in social mode. Go to plenty of networking events too, to see if you can't find some new and relevant contacts of your own.
Matching agencies, such as Rockstar, charge a monthly fee to find you a well-suited mentor, and then to support that relationship. Often, they deal with businesses of a range of different sizes, so they can nurture you as you grow - when you get bigger, they might find a new mentor with relevant experience to accommodate that, for example.
If you are lucky enough to get funding from The Prince's Trust (you need to be aged 14 - 30, or 18 - 25 for The Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust), you will be assigned to a mentor who is suited to you, both geographically and within your sector. The Trust will encourage you to meet with your mentor at least once a month, with your mentor reporting back to them. If there is any advice your mentor can't give you, the Trust will step in to help. Many other funding programmes and charities operate in a similar way - ask when you sign up.
Ask your local Regional Development Agency (RDA) or council to refer you to a suitable scheme (they may well refer you to an Enterprise Support Organisation, ESO). Business Link's programme is less structured. Its Information and Intelligence Centre has a telephone line and email answering service which will help you with most enquiries, but if you need further help, they will arrange a meeting with a business adviser at your local Enterprise Support Organisation (ESO).
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