entrepreneur
Business, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Organization, Productivity, Success

4 Challenges You Learn to Overcome as an Entrepreneur

Choosing to pursue a career in entrepreneurship is a decision that today’s professionals may make for any number of reasons. Some are drawn to it when they find themselves in awe of the incredible accomplishments of other entrepreneurs, some find that the typical 9-to-5 job doesn’t inspire them, and some are drawn to the risky adventurousness of creating a business from the ground up.

No matter their reasoning, entrepreneurs have one undeniable thing in common with each other: they all tend to face a similar set of struggles as they attempt to build a successful company. Listed below are four of the most common challenges that new entrepreneurs must overcome on the path to success.

  1. Finding funding.

Though entrepreneurs of all experience levels may find it challenging to finance their venture, first-time entrepreneurs can find it especially difficult. New founders often lack the professional connections of their more experienced counterparts, and may have a more difficult time finding investors or other forms of financing for building a business.

funding

The first step that first-time entrepreneurs must take in securing the necessary capital is to evaluate the options available to them. Common ways that small business owners choose to finance their companies include taking out bank loans, long-term work at a typical job to build savings, attracting an angel investor, or seeking out investments from friends and family members. Venture capital may be an avenue for some entrepreneurs. Yet another form of financing that has gained popularity in recent years is crowdfunding through websites like kickstarter.com. Through these types of websites, entrepreneurs can lay out their business plan and solicit donations from anyone on the Internet. Once an entrepreneur manages to raise enough capital through any of these methods, they must create and operate within a responsible budget to avoid problems with cash management.

  1. Hiring and developing a cohesive team.

Having the right team of professionals to run an enterprise is key to driving growth, and hiring the best talent to fill positions can be a daunting task for a new business owner. Not only do employees need to have the right skillsets to perform well, but entrepreneurs need to hire them at a cost that is affordable to the new business. It is also important for entrepreneurs to consider a candidate’s personality and work style to ensure that he or she will work well with other members of the team.

To build a great staff, entrepreneurs should think comprehensively about the specifications of the position they are hiring for, considering what they truly need from the person who will fill it. They should come up with a list of the nonnegotiable skills and attributes that are needed for the role, and think carefully about the ways they want the employee to impact their business. Doing so will help entrepreneurs develop criteria to evaluate candidates.

Additionally, entrepreneurs need to keep their company’s mission and core values in mind so that they can seek out candidates with similar perspectives. Entrepreneurs should also use a consistent interview process—for example, by asking the same questions in the same order, or administering the same test under the same conditions. A standardized process will allow entrepreneurs to more easily and objectively compare applicants to determine who will be the best fit overall.

  1. Finding the courage to leave a full-time job.

Many entrepreneurs start their business while still holding down their full-time job in order to provide themselves with a bit of security. Though this is a good decision for people who lack the savings or support in the early phases of growing a company, there comes a point in a successful business’s growth when it will demand the majority of the entrepreneur’s time, beyond just nights and weekends. This can be an especially difficult challenge to overcome for first-time entrepreneurs who have only ever known the security of the typical 9-to-5 job.

business suit

While different people choose different times to leave their full-time job and focus on their new company, there will come a pivotal moment when every entrepreneur must find the courage to do so. Entrepreneurs should think carefully about the right time to leave, making sure that they have a financial plan in place. Health insurance and debt can be big factors in this decision. Entrepreneurs should also be comfortable with the fact that, going forward, they’ll need to plan for life with a higher degree of flexibility and stick to a stringent budget until the business takes off.

  1. Grappling with self-doubt.

To enjoy life as an entrepreneur, you must be tenacious and able to move past doubt and negativity. Starting your own company is a gamble, and it is easy in the early phases of business development to succumb to fearful thoughts that leave you questioning your abilities as a business leader. Self-doubt is common among first-time entrepreneurs, but those who are successful in their endeavors are the ones who learn to mitigate the inevitable, stress-induced uncertainty.

The best ways to overcome self-doubt as an entrepreneur are to remember your past accomplishments and have an excellent support system in the form of family, friends, and business mentors. Additionally, learn how to gracefully accept and move past the mistakes you will inevitably make in the process of establishing your company. An entrepreneur who cannot accept his or her failures will be plagued by anxiety, which can lead to crippling indecisiveness. You can overcome self-doubt by acknowledging mistakes when they happen and applying the lessons you learn from the experience to avoid similar missteps in the future.

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entrepreneur
Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Productivity, Success

10 Important Habits that All Entrepreneurs Should Have

Entrepreneurs are a unique cohort. Though they share no particular age, gender, or nationality, these individuals do tend to have a few things in common, including certain personal characteristics like curiosity, passion, and the ability to see the big picture.

While most people have no control over their inborn personality traits, anyone interested in entrepreneurship can adopt a number of tried-and-true beneficial habits. Listed here are 10 things that successful entrepreneurs do:

  1. They plan everything.

planning

No matter what kind of business they are trying to build, entrepreneurs have long to-do lists that require effective planning to complete. They plan their workdays in advance, blocking out specific time for priority tasks and sticking to a schedule to avoid letting themselves be pulled in too many directions at once. They also look beyond day-to-day activities to plan out weekly and monthly tasks in an effort to keep their operations moving forward.

  1. They know the value of goal-setting.

Talented entrepreneurs understand that they can only make an effective plan if they have established goals to work toward. Goal-setting is a habit that helps entrepreneurs work more effectively, preventing them from wasting time on tasks that won’t necessarily improve a company’s likelihood of success. Further, as leaders, they communicate these goals clearly to the people they are working with to make sure that everyone works cohesively toward the same objective.

  1. They get up early.

wall clock

Though there is no indication that late-night workers can’t become successful business professionals, research shows that most successful entrepreneurs are early risers, whether naturally or by choice. The early morning hours can be extremely valuable for organization, productivity, and preparation. So, entrepreneurs should use this time of day to their advantage.

  1. They hire intelligently.

Successful business owners select great employees. These leaders are good at assessing people’s skills and bringing individuals on board who are a good fit with company culture. Additionally, they are not intimidated by the professional abilities of others and are willing to put together good offers that attract top talent. Great entrepreneurs make a habit of hiring strategically because they know that they will not succeed without the support of a competent team.

  1. They keep the right people in the loop.

mentorship

Entrepreneurs who manage to build successful companies are good at keeping those involved in their business updated on its progress. This includes their own staff as well as financial backers. These professionals keep an accurate measure of the results of their work and are open about achievements as well as setbacks. This habit can help investors feel more confident in their decision to financially support a fledgling company. Additionally, it helps create a greater sense of job satisfaction among employees, who are better able to understand the value of their work when they have a clear vision of the company’s growth.

  1. They recognize their limits.

Entrepreneurs must be self-aware enough to honestly evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses; therefore regular self-reflection is valuable. Many successful entrepreneurs have “type-A” personalities, which make them feel like they need to push themselves to their limits and do as much as possible without any help. However, great entrepreneurs know their limits and delegate where they can in order to work more effectively. They also recognize when another person on their team could perform a task better and faster than they can, and they aren’t afraid to admit it. This helps entrepreneurs save time and direct their talents toward other areas where they can contribute in a more meaningful way.

  1. They stay healthy.

healthy food

Starting a company is a labor of love, but it still causes ample stress. Consequently, many successful entrepreneurs practice good diet and exercise habits in order to combat stress and fatigue. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and taking the time to exercise regularly helps these professionals maintain a healthy mind and body, which helps them perform to the best of their abilities every day.

  1. They actively network.

Networking is second nature to a talented entrepreneur. Even if social skills do not come naturally to them, smart entrepreneurs leverage good communication tactics to establish meaningful professional relationships with other people. Entrepreneurs who underestimate the power of networking rarely find the kind of success they imagine for their companies. Those who do ultimately build a strong business tend to be those who are willing to help out fellow entrepreneurs through collaboration or by facilitating new networking connections between previously unacquainted members of their professional community.

  1. They listen instinctively.

listening

Those who achieve success as entrepreneurs tend to be constant learners who are naturally curious. As such, they make a habit of listening to others. They welcome outside input and keep an open mind when they hear new ideas. Moreover, they know the importance of adapting quickly to changing circumstances and are always looking for ways to evolve. They also recognize that listening to other people can help them achieve these goals.

  1. They ask for help.

The last habit that entrepreneurs have is a lack of ego: they put aside feelings of pride and reach out to people for assistance when they need it, even when it’s hard to ask. They also may enlist the help of a mentor to coach them through the stages of building a business. A large number of famously successful startup founders have relied on the support of mentors to build their companies, and many among the next generation of successful entrepreneurs are sure to do the same thing.

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Business, Improvement, Management, Organization, Productivity, Success

5 Easy Ways to Establish a Positive Workplace Culture

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based philanthropist and business executive Don Gayhardt has over 25 years of experience as a leader in the finance sector, with previous professional roles that include a position as the president of international firm Dollar Financial Group. Today, he functions as the president and CEO of CURO Financial Technologies Corp—an organization that oversees a number of accessible financial solutions brands, including Speedy Cash, LendDirect, and WageDayAdvance. In his work with CURO, Don Gayhardt focuses on fostering a positive workplace culture that motivates his employees to perform to the best of their abilities and enables them to feel comfortable contributing their ideas.

Positive workplace cultures can have a significant impact on the success of a major corporation like CURO Financial Technologies Corp, but they can also be extremely valuable in a small-business workplace. If you’re a small-business owner looking to create a positive workplace culture for your employees, then you should take these five steps to make your vision a reality:

  1. Make your vision clear.

goals vision

Expressing the vision that you have for your small business is an important part of helping your employees understand your company as a whole and the role that they play in helping it grow. Make sure that your staff is clear about your company’s purpose, core values, and customer-service standards, as well as your definition of excellence in business. Apart from explicitly articulating these things to your team, make sure that you demonstrate a commitment to the company’s vision in the work that you do. Employees are more likely to respect and follow your example than your words.

  1. Bring the right people on board.

Hiring great employees is about more than finding people with the right skill sets and professional experience. While these elements are important, another, less definable but equally valuable characteristic is whether a job candidate has a personality that suits the kind of business culture you want to create. Studies have shown that staff members with values and personalities that are a good match for the company they work for may feel greater satisfaction in their jobs, remain in their positions for a longer period of time, and may even demonstrate better job performance.

When recruiting new employees for your company, determine ahead of time what type of personal qualities best suit your business culture and add them to the list of traits your ideal job candidate should have. In the end, mindfully hiring employees who fit your culture will contribute to a positive overall environment in which like-minded people work together for the best results.

  1. Implement strong training and development programs.

Once you’ve hired employees who fit in well with the culture you’re trying to create, it’s important to have comprehensive, efficient training programs in place to help set them up for success in your organization. No matter what kind of work environment you are trying to establish for your company, you can only maintain it if your employees feel content in their roles. By providing new employees with comprehensive training when they first take a position, you will help them develop the skills necessary to perform their work with confidence and efficiency, which can lead to greater job satisfaction.

training

Additionally, you should be sure to communicate with your employees about their professional goals and offer development programs to help them work toward the futures that they envision for themselves. Doing so establishes a supportive element to your workplace culture that keeps individuals optimistic about their experience with your company and may help you retain valued team members.

  1. Require two-way communication at all levels.

Healthy communication between yourself and your staff is an important part of creating a positive work culture. This means being clear about the expectations you have for your employees and addressing problems and issues that arise in the workplace. It’s also a good idea to keep your staff reasonably informed about your company’s progress and growth.

When you share this type of information with your staff members, you show them that you value them and consider them integral to the success of the company. Communication, however, is a give and take. While it’s important to routinely convey information, it is also vital to listen to ideas and feedback from your employees. Make a habit of asking your employees for their thoughts and opinions and listen to what they have to say. Encouraging openness between executives and employees creates an environment of honesty and innovation, both of which are important for company growth and a healthy workplace culture.

  1. Don’t let achievements go unnoticed.

If an employee or group of employees reaches a milestone or makes a major achievement, then you should make an effort to recognize the accomplishment. The method and degree of recognition you use is a matter of personal preference, but remember that the simple act of showing employees that you appreciate them has far-reaching effects. By acknowledging your employees’ contributions, you can help boost morale within the company and show staff members that their work has meaning. As a result, employees will feel a greater sense of fulfillment in their work, which can lead to a more positive work environment overall.

cyber security
Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Organization, Success

6 of the Best Basic Cyber Security Tips for Small Business Owners

Technology has given small business owners countless advantages, from the ability to sell to customers around the world to software that streamlines bookkeeping, inventory management, and other processes. However, the benefits that modern technology has to offer are accompanied by an increase in security risks for business owners, especially for home-based companies and other small businesses. According to recent data, over 70 percent of cyberattacks are focused on small businesses, and many attacks occur within the company’s first half-year in operation.

While larger corporations have bigger budgets for cybersecurity, there are still plenty of actions that small business owners can take in order to protect themselves and their customers from data theft and exposure. Six of these helpful tips are listed below.

  1. Invest in reputable anti-virus software.

anti-virusThe first step in protecting a small business from cybersecurity threats is to choose reliable, high quality anti-virus software to protect your PCs. Choosing a paid security program for the computers you use is a simple yet effective way to prevent exposure to malware and other malicious programs. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent, affordable options to choose from. According to the website TechRadar, some of the most highly recommended security programs for small businesses in 2017 include Symantec Endpoint Protection, Avast Endpoint Protection Advanced, and Avira Antivirus for Endpoint. Once you’ve chosen and installed security software, make sure to always install updates and patches as they become available to minimize weaknesses or gaps in protection.

  1. Create strong passwords.

While it can be tempting for the sake of simplicity to use an easy, universal password to gain access to all devices and accounts you use for your business, doing so poses a significant security risk. To create a strong password, professionals suggest phrases that are 10 characters long at minimum and incorporate a series of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. The more complicated, the better.

In addition, try to use different password for different accounts. This way, if a hacker uncovers one of your passwords, the discovery will not compromise your other accounts. If you have trouble remembering your passwords, consider using a password management app to store them. Remember to change passwords regularly as well, as often as once every three months.

  1. Establish protocols for the use of personal devices at work.

smartphoneDue to budget constraints, many small business owners choose to have employees use their personal devices to do work. If you’ve chosen to implement this approach at your company, make sure you’ve created security protocols for employees and taken measures to protect company data in the event that an employee leaves the company or has his or her device stolen. Consider instating a policy that requires employees to use a specific security system and participate in routine password changes in order to help keep your business’ information safe.

It can also be helpful to use mobile device management (MDM) software in order to separate company data from an employee’s personal data on a device. MDM solutions make it easy for all company information to be wiped from the hard drive of a personal computer in the event that an employee leaves the company.

  1. Keep access to sensitive information limited.

When it comes to cybersecurity, it’s generally best to limit access to your company’s data, network, and financial information. This means controlling which aspects of your business’ programs and data that your staff can access. Give employees permissions only for the software and systems they need to do their jobs, and make sure that you approve of any new software before it is installed. This is important because studies show that a company’s employees are statistically more likely to be at the root of a data breach than outsiders, whether they mean to cause harm or not.

  1. Make sure your employees are trained in basic security protocols.

securityTo prevent well-meaning employees from accidentally opening your company up to cybersecurity threats, it’s important that every member of your staff be trained in basic online safety. At minimum, employees should know how to securely store passwords, connect to protected Wi-Fi networks, and safely transfer files. They should also be familiar with the common signs of a cyber security threat and know how to report a potential threat to management.

  1. Make a plan ahead of time.

Because the threat of breaches only grows as technology develops, one of the most helpful things that a small business owner can do is to create a contingency plan for the best course of action if your company’s cybersecurity is compromised. Consider hiring an IT consultant to help you understand what to do in the event of a cybersecurity emergency. If you don’t have enough room in your budget to bring in an IT professional, there are many online tools to help you develop a comprehensive cyber security plan, including the Cyberplanner tool provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The planner can be found here.

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Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Management, Organization, Productivity, Success

7 Signs that You Need to Move Your Business Out of Your Home

The internet is full of articles declaring the benefits of running a business out of your own home. From the monthly amount that you can save on rent to the time-saving advantage of not having a commute, there are many reasons why entrepreneurs may choose to host their business operations conveniently within their own homes.

While certain small businesses will arguably operate best from a home-based environment, others may be better served by an eventual move to a commercial office space. To know if your home-based business should be considering a move to a public location, look for the following seven signs.

  1. You’re hiring employees who aren’t family members.

The first sign that your business may be ready for the move to a commercial office space is that its operations have grown to a point where you need to bring non-family employees on board to share the workload. A business operating out of a house may not appeal to the type of talent you need. Additionally, it can also be disruptive to your personal environment to have employees join you in your home office every work day.

employees

Hiring remote employees is an option for some small businesses. However, your company may be successful enough to merit moving out of the house if you’re at a point where you have both the need and the financial ability to make room for additional staff members.

  1. You’re running out of space.

Even if you are comfortable with additional employees working from your home-based office, the amount of space that you have to run your business should be taken into consideration. As you add technology, inventory, and more staff members, quarters may become cramped. This reduces your company’s ability to stay organized and remain functional.

Additionally, your business’s growth may at some point come into conflict with local zoning laws. This is because cities have regulations that dictate the size and type of businesses that are permitted to operate within residential areas.

  1. You routinely bring clients, vendors, and business partners to your office.

Residing in a corporate space does not necessarily reflect a business’s commitment to professionalism. On the other hand, having a location outside of your home may help enhance your credibility in the minds of customers, vendors, and other relevant business professionals.

business

If your growing operations require you to routinely meet with people from these groups, a rented space may have a strong, positive impact on the confidence that they feel in the decision to work with, hire, or buy from your company.

  1. Your company could use a culture boost.

As your business grows in terms of both sales and the number of staff members, it’s important to make sure that you have a company culture that helps retain valued employees, generates a positive reputation in your community, and maintains a high level of productivity.

Moving your business out of the house and into a formal office can be an important component of creating and perpetuating a healthy corporate culture. The right office layout may be more conducive to open communication, efficiency, and an overall feeling of professionalism among your employees than an office based out of your home.

  1. You’re finding it difficult to stay on task.

No matter how secluded your workspace is from the rest of your house, working from home can be full of small distractions that eat away at your workday. This may leave you feeling like you can never get enough accomplished. Family members and pets have a tendency to disrupt one’s concentration, and the more relaxed domestic environment may leave you open to procrastination that needlessly extends your workday. Moving your home-based operations into a corporate office may help you improve your work-life balance and give you the space you need to focus.

  1. Your isolation is reducing your motivation and productivity.

Even if your home office provides you with enough seclusion to focus, some company owners simply don’t work as well in isolation as they do in a corporate workspace among colleagues. Attempting to work long term from home without socialization during the workday can leave you feeling unmotivated and lonely, leading to reduced productivity.

employee

Further, some entrepreneurs simply function better when they are engaged in work outside of their homes, feeling greater drive and inspiration when they formally separate their personal and professional spaces.

  1. Your company is financially stable enough to move.

Though this rule does not apply to every entrepreneur, if your home-based business has found enough success to comfortably afford the move to a commercial space, it may be time for you to seriously consider the option. In spite of the added expense, having an office space for your company to grow into comes with countless small benefits that may help you take your operations to the next level.

Ultimately, you will know when and if the time is right for your company to move. When you do, be sure to do your research and find a space that both suits your budget and makes you feel excited about the future.

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Business, Entrepreneurship, Improvement, Organization, Productivity, Success, Work at Home

The Best Tools That an Entrepreneur Can Have in a Home Office

For home-based business owners, having the right office setup is a crucial component of running a company efficiently. Not only should an office be organized, have ample storage space, and maintain adequate lighting, but it must also be equipped with tools that help you work more efficiently.

If you’re a home business owner who wants to create a workspace that makes it easy to run a productive operation, make sure you invest in the following basic, essential tools and equipment for your home office.

A suitable desk

Since you will be spending a lot of time working from your desk, it’s important to choose one that meets your personal and professional needs. Factors to consider when shopping for the right desk include comfort, size, and the amount of storage you would like incorporated into the design.

computer desk

It’s also important to consider the type of work that you primarily do. If you will accomplish the majority of your tasks on a computer, you may want to look at desks specifically designed for computer use, with elevated platforms for a monitor or wiring holes that allow you to keep cords organized. If you run a business that generates a significant amount of paperwork, look for a desk with a wider surface area or one that incorporates shelving into the design. If your work involves an even combination of computer work and paperwork, consider a desk in the shape of an “L” or a “U” to give yourself more space to compartmentalize the different aspects of your operations.

A comfortable chair

Though often overlooked, a good office chair can make a significant difference in the workday of the home-based entrepreneur. You will likely spend about as much time in your chair as you do at your desk, which makes it important to choose a model that is comfortable and ergonomic. Find a seat that has the right amount of cushioning and lumbar support, and has a back rest as well as adjustable arm rests so that you can recline in a position that naturally suits your posture.

A filing cabinet

filing cabinet

Even if you tend to conduct the majority of your business digitally, it’s still important to have a locking filing cabinet in your home office. Not only does this piece of equipment serve as a place to safely store important documents, but it also provides you with a useful tool for preventing clutter. Easy access to a filing cabinet may make it less likely that you’ll leave papers lying in stacks around your workspace, which can cause stress and make it difficult to focus. In addition, regularly using your filing cabinet to store documents allows you to know precisely where information is when you need it, cutting down on the time you would otherwise spend searching for specific papers.

A paper shredder

In order to keep your filing cabinet neat and organized, you should avoid filing any documents that don’t truly need to be saved. However, when discarded documents contain sensitive information about yourself, your clients, or your company, it is extremely useful to have a paper shredder on hand. Though you may not need to use it every day, a paper shredder is a small investment that can go a long way toward protecting you from many different forms of theft.

A computer

No matter what industry you work in, having a computer is a universal need for anyone who wants to have a successful business in the digital age. If you’re looking for a business computer on a budget, you may want to consider investing in a desktop PC. If you need a computer that offers a high degree of mobility so that you can work outside your home office, look into purchasing a laptop. You can pair either option with a second monitor to provide two screens to work on, which may increase your overall efficiency during the workday.

macbook

Whichever computer you choose to buy, make sure to also invest in a high-speed Internet connection. Having quality Internet service enables you to successfully run cloud-based programs and applications, provides a stable platform for online communications between clients and business partners, and reduces the likelihood that slow Internet speeds will hamper your productivity.

Multi-function printer

Purchasing a multi-function printer will do more than allow you to print documents. Several models can provide you with the ability to scan, fax, and copy papers without the need to invest in additional, expensive pieces of equipment. Laser printers are best suited for businesses that predominantly print text documents in black and white, while businesses that often print photos and graphics may benefit most from an inkjet printer.

Cost-effective computer applications

There are many online tools that are both economical and extremely useful for business operations. Dropbox, for example, gives you the ability to store and back-up files in the cloud, making them accessible from any device with an Internet connection and protecting them from deletion in the event that your hard drive is damaged. Google Docs is a great way for entrepreneurs to work on shared files with others over distance, and it can be used for free. It’s also a good idea to purchase the Microsoft Office Suite package to secure a top-quality word processor and spreadsheet program for your business. Additionally, business accounting software or software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a necessity for bookkeeping and tax preparation.

Basic desk supplies

For true efficiency, make sure to stock your office with must-haves like a stapler, paperclips, pens and pencils, spare notebooks, USB drives, stamps and envelopes, and a calendar. While these items may seem insignificant and not critical for running a small business, having them available at the moment you need them is a serious time-saver and will prevent you from having to disrupt your workflow with a trip to the office supply store.

mentor
Education, Improvement, Management, Mentorship, Productivity, Success

6 Things Entrepreneurs Should Consider When Seeking Out a Mentor

From the CEOs of the world’s most successful corporations to startup founders who operate from their home offices, studies show that professionals from all backgrounds have something to gain from cultivating a mentoring relationship with a more experienced business leader. If you are an entrepreneur who is thinking of seeking out a mentor, you may benefit from knowing the following things about mentoring relationships.

  1. You need to choose a mentor with the right qualities.

meeting

Not all mentors are created equal. Not only should the person whom you choose as a mentor have experience in building a business, but he or she should also be honest, available, and possess values similar to your own. Good mentors are inspiring leaders who come to the relationship from a place of mutual respect and who will take the time to listen to your questions and opinions, rather than simply provide you with useless advice and speak to boost their own ego.

  1. Having a mentor may help you stay in business.

It’s common knowledge among entrepreneurs that a significant number of startups and small business ventures ultimately fail to find success. According to recent studies, only about half of small businesses remain in operation after five years. However, research indicates that professionals who enlist the help of a mentor may increase the longevity of their business. Of those companies run by leaders who sought out a mentor, around 70 percent were still in business after reaching the five-year mark. A good mentor will be able to evaluate your business plan from a neutral point of view and help you to identify those areas that need improvement, which can help your company stay in operation longer than it would have otherwise.

  1. Mentors can provide you with insight that you can’t get anywhere else.

insight

In many cases, entrepreneurs must learn lessons about company leadership through personal experience. However, talented mentors will be able to share valuable insights learned from the triumphs and mistakes that they made in their own careers. Many small business leaders look for helpful information in books written by notable business executives, but these tools often omit the more intimate experiences that teach the most worthwhile lessons. Developing a strong relationship with an experienced mentor may allow you to gain insights that you would otherwise have had to learn over time, which can help you to avoid common but unnecessary mistakes.

  1. A mentor provides networking opportunities.

The value of having a mentor encompasses more than the ability to provide useful insight and help you improve your skills as a leader. Having a mentor is also an excellent way to broaden your professional network. Experienced mentors who have earned the respect of professionals in their industry are likely to have made a number of beneficial connections with others. When appropriate, your mentor may be willing to help you connect with these professionals, as well. However, it is important to note that you should never ask a mentor to introduce you to any member of his or her professional circle. Instead, you should wait for the mentor to offer. A good mentor will recognize when an introduction would be beneficial and will likely suggest setting up a meeting if your relationship is a positive one.

  1. There’s no “right” way to interact with a mentor.

conversation

If you choose to seek out a mentor, it’s important to remember that there is no “correct” way to conduct the partnership. Some entrepreneurs and their mentors hold in-person meetings, while others choose to communicate exclusively over the phone or by email. Some meet regularly, while others hold meetings on a particular occasion. The only thing that should always be present in a healthy mentoring relationship is a mentor who makes him or herself available to the mentee and is willing to answer questions. In turn, mentees should never expect to be a top priority in their mentors’ professional lives, and they should always be respectful of their mentors’ time. When you find a mentor, you should set your own standards for the relationship, while ensuring that you both agree ahead of time about how often and through what means the two of you will communicate.

  1. Mentors benefit from the relationship, too.

While you will undoubtedly derive value from a mentor’s influence, you must also recognize that the relationship should not be one-sided. Through your mentoring relationship, the professional whom you’ve chosen as your mentor may strengthen his or own skills in business, reinforcing what he or she has learned through the act of teaching you. In addition, your mentor may have the opportunity to learn new skills or meet new valuable business contacts through you and your company. Remember that simply because you have less experience does not mean that you have nothing to offer. To ensure that the relationship is mutually beneficial, both you and your mentor should be respectful of each other’s time and boundaries and never take advantage of one another.