Small businesses fuel the New Zealand economy. The saying “small but mighty” is rather fitting, as small businesses make up 97% of the total number of businesses in New Zealand, employing 29% of all employees, and contributing an estimated 26% of New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
However the early life of a small business is a tough one. Going into business for the first time is a daunting prospect, and with good reason. Almost 60% of small businesses don’t make it past the first six years, and those that do are still in for their fair share of challenges.
If you’re looking to succeed at something, you should start by learning what you need to know. Rather than going back to the very beginning and reinventing the wheel, you will typically turn to a published resource, an expert on the subject, or in 99% of cases worldwide (not a real statistic), you’ll end up on Google.
In business, while Google may occasionally have the answer you’re after, the support of an expert or someone who has walked the same enterprising path that you on is invaluable. Having a personal connection to turn to with questions on almost anything at almost any time of the day or night is honestly the number one hack to propelling your business past the crucial six-year mark and just succeeding in general. So, whether your small business is a vague start up idea or a healthy seven-year-old, we’ve broken down mentorship and why a mentor could be good for your small business.
What is business mentoring?
Business mentoring is a professional relationship in which an experienced businessperson helps the mentee, typically a businessperson with significantly less experience, develop specific skills and knowledge in order to improve their performance and potential in business. The mentor will act as a coach and sounding board to help the mentee develop self confidence, build strategy, improve their skills, and problem-solve their way into business success.
Who is business mentoring for?
Business mentoring is a great option for both start up entrepreneurs and established business owners. People looking for personalised guidance on challenges, sound and expert advice, constructive feedback and encouragement, and strategic business planning advice.
Specifically for start up entrepreneurs, mentoring can be a great option for those wanting to discuss a confidential business idea, figure out where to start, perform a feasibility study, create a business plan, understand legal obligations, and avoid common mistakes.
Five reasons a mentor could be good for your small business
1. Shared and increased network
A business mentor will typically have a broad and well-established network that they will be willing to share. As a small business or start up owner, building a network of connections to turn to in a variety of situations is key to setting yourself up for success. The majority of major opportunities in business will often come from your network.
2. Share resources and contacts on key business needs
A business mentor will have the industry knowledge on where to find the information you need, and which professionals to use for contract work (tradespeople, accountants, financial advisors, attorneys, etc). Additionally, a business mentor will have experienced advice on your options for key business needs and topics such as your exit strategy or succession planning.
4. Challenging your assumptions
As a business owner, it can be very easy to get caught being closed-minded, and a business mentor is the perfect person to challenge your assumptions. Mentors can provide critical feedback on communications, interpersonal relationships, technical skills, change management, leadership, and problem-solving, among other key areas and also provide encouragement, advice and motivation.
5. Addressing all your questions and concerns about business
In addition to being a resource to turn to, business mentors are a sounding board, available to provide open and honest counsel at all times. Mentors can be a friendly ear to share both frustrations and successes with.
Hack the process
Ultimately, finding a business mentor will allow you to “hack” the process of learning to set up or run your small business. Thanks to the knowledge and experience of a mentor, you can expect a much shorter and faster learning curve.
Where can you find a mentor?
If your business employs fewer than 25 full-time employees and provides you with your primary source of income, with evidence of trading, you qualify to register for mentoring assistance.
Register online at businessmentors.org.nz
Complete an online registration
Pay a one off $225 + GST registration fee (for one year’s of registration)
Your local agent will contact you to arrange your mentor match.
Start your application to find a small-business mentor here.