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How to become a mentor

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SmallBusiness.com How-tos are step-by-step instructions for specific small business tasks. They are created and edited by readers like you. You can help edit this How-to or you can create your own. Find more How-tos at the SmallBusiness.com How-to Hub.

Introduction

Entrepreneurship isn't as easy -- or as entertaining -- as it might seem. Despite the glamour of making your own schedule, being your own boss and owning your own business, numerous start-ups have trouble staying in the black during the first few months of business. That's why many new entrepreneurs turn to seasoned business owners to learn the ropes of their industry before putting business plans in place. Not sure if you have what it takes to be a good mentor? Follow these tips and you'll be ready in no time.

Tips for becoming a mentor

  • Find a good match. Create a strong relationship with your mentee. If your relationship is all "shop talk," planning mentor meetings will feel more like a dreaded obligation than a fun time to help a new business owner get his or her feet on the ground.
  • Have confidence. No matter how large your company is or how much revenue you generate each year, you have one thing your mentee lacks: experience. In order for your relationship to work, you must have enough confidence to share your past experiences and offer sage advice.
  • Get committed. A strong mentoring connection requires ample communication and flexible availability. You can plan times to meet, but small business owners inevitably find themselves faced with unexpected crises that could require emergency meetings or phone sessions -- even late at night or in the wee hours of morning.
  • Make meetings frequent. Schedule 15-minute meetings or conference calls once a week, and prepare for longer planning and Q&A sessions once a month. By making yourself available, your mentee will feel more comfortable asking you for advice or sharing their ideas.

Finding a business owner to mentor

  • Check out professional trade organizations to find a new business owner who needs your experience to stay afloat, or think of people in your community who could use some business advice.