Mentors and Entrepreneurial Success

By at 19 January, 2018, 1:29 pm

January is National Mentoring Month

By Karen Kerrigan-

Mentors have played a very critical role in my life and career. Oftentimes these mentoring relationships were informal interactions or get-togethers where I simply wanted to learn “tips of the trade,” acquire feedback about ideas, or seek advice and counsel. But other times they were more structured, where I was held accountable for certain goals or actions.  Mentors continue to be an important part of my life and I attribute much of my success to all my great mentors who’ve become great friends along the way.

I’ve also enjoyed being a mentor to scores of amazing people over the years.  The best thing about experience is being able to share what you’ve learned with others. This is what life is all about – the circle of giving and receiving useful advice, and helping others avoid the bad stuff and traps that can waste human energy and potential.

Having a mentor (or network of mentors) makes good business sense. A study by UPS found that 70 percent of mentored businesses survive more than five years (compared to the 50 percent survival rate.)  All great entrepreneurs had mentors. Many of them say mentors were essential to their success.

See: Mentors are the Secret Weapons of Successful Startups, TechCrunch

Finding a Mentor

Mentors are sometimes found through a thoughtful process of digging through your networks and contacts, setting up meetings, and hopefully identifying a good match who will agree to guide you. Other times people simply stumble upon the ideal mentor at networking events, the gym or other social events and outings.  Groups like SCORE (see below) will help you find a mentor. You can also find mentors at Small Business Development Centers, Women Business Centers or through local chambers of commerce and business organizations.  (See full list of Small Business Administration local offices and resources here.)

Before finding a mentor, it is important that you know why you need one and whether you are ready to be mentored. This article – “9 Tips for Finding and Getting the Perfect Mentor” – provides solid preparation and advice for entering a mentoring relationship and identifying potential mentors.

As you search for mentors, there are key things to keep to mind (and avoid) as well. This article –  “8 Successful People Share How NOT to Find a Mentor” – covers some important terrain about expectations, and offers common sense tips.


For over 50 years SCORE has served as the nation’s premier source of free business mentoring and education.  The mentors and education provided by SCORE are dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through mentorship and education.  SCORE has a network of more than 10,000 volunteers, so the organization is able to provide services for free or at low cost.  Here is what SCORE provides:

● Volunteer mentors who share their expertise across 62 industries

● Free, confidential business mentoring in person, via email or by video

● Free business tools, templates and tips here online

● Inexpensive or free business workshops (locally) and webinars (online 24/7)

● 300 chapters hold events and workshops locally across the U.S. and its territories, and match up entrepreneurs with local, volunteer mentors.

Learn more about SCORE here, or begin your search for a SCORE mentor here.

A Social Platform for Mentoring: MicroMentor

MicroMentor is a free, easy-to-use social network that allows entrepreneurs and volunteer business mentors to connect so they can solve problems and build businesses together.  MicroMentor’s mission is to leverage the power of mentoring to help small businesses thrive. The community has created thousands of mentor-mentee matches.  On MicroMentor’s “Help for Entrepreneurs” page there are advice and steps for connecting and succeeding with a mentor.

Mentoring on the Run

Mentoring Moments is a Forbes podcast series that has interviewed successful women who share their “wow, you need to know this” stories.  As noted by the description of the podcast:  “Women you may never meet will become your mentors. Forbes contributor, author and entrepreneur Denise Restauri, invites you into her NYC apartment to tap into her conversations with successful women who are sharing vulnerable moments. From high points, to when good ideas go bad, to moments of sudden insight when you just know you have to risk it all. We have advice for all of them.”

Your Network

Don’t forget about your closest networks – family and friends and people they may know who can help you with advice about starting your business, or taking it to the next level.  Consider joining a local business group, social club or your college alumni network as these memberships will expose you to new people who may provide the insight or expertise you and your business may need at various stages.

The Best and Brightest Had Mentors

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to admit you need help.  The smartest and brightest in the world, especially the most successful entrepreneurs, point to mentoring relationships as critical to their success. Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Tory Burch, and Bill Gates – all of these successful individuals can recall when a mentor played a defining role at critical moments in their career or lives.

One last thing, if you are in a position to mentor someone, please consider doing so.  Many young people are in desperate need of guidance and support to help show them their value and bring out their talent. To quote Benjamin Disraeli: “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”

Twenty Inspiring Mentoring Quotes, Get Ever Wise

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

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