Clark Kent by Nanagyei

A Mentor Can Be Your Businesses’ Secret Weapon

Entrepreneurs are constantly looking for ways to make their business that much better than their competitors, spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars paying for strategic plans, legal advice and any other number of for fee services.  What if I told you that there was a free resource that you could use that could put your business ahead of the rest? Well, there is.  A mentor can be your secret weapon to realizing success.

Most new businesses are started by entrepreneurs who are passionate about their interests.  Passion however, cannot equate to years of business experience and good old hard knocks.  This is where a mentor can assist.  A good mentor can help a new business owner think through their business idea and suggest ways to get the business off the ground running.  Mentors can provide the experience and business know-how that new entrepreneurs lack.

Have you ever been so close to an idea that you can’t see how it could fail?  Most entrepreneurs posses an innate ability to see the glass half full all the time.  While this is a good quality to have there has to be a dose of realism sprinkled into the “feel good juice” in order to make it taste good.  Again this is where a mentor can help.  Often mentors are far removed from the business and/or industry so they have the ability to look at a scenario objectively and provide unbiased opinions and advice.

Mentors come in various forms.  Some business owners are fortunate to have a mentor who is in their family.  For those that do not have access to a seasoned entrepreneur in their family to rely on, then it is never too early to start to identify a potential mentor.  Here are some tips to identifying the right mentor for your business:

  1. What’s in it for me? –   Be clear about what you want to get out of your relationship.  Ideally, be as specific as possible with what you need assistance with to make it easier for your mentor to help you.
  2. “Been there, done that” – Your mentor should be someone who has had business experiences, good and bad.  If your mentor has experienced failures and come out on the other side a success, he/she may be able to share those secrets of success with you.
  3. Personality rules – Not every mentor will be a good fit for you.  Although some may be extremely gifted in business, if you cannot communicate effectively with your mentor due to personality conflicts, this isn’t the person for you.  Make sure that you respect and can listen to your mentors advice and guidance.
  4. Accountability counts – A good mentor will hold you accountable for what you say you will do and they would expect that you do the same for them.  Your mentor can act as a guide to help steer you in the right direction and away from pending disaster.
  5. Multiples can be good – There is no rule that says you can’t have more than one mentor. There may be many people that you come across that can provide that guidance and support that you need to take your business to the next level.  But you have to be open to receive the help.

Recognizing the importance of business mentoring, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation launched its pilot mentoring programme, “Partnering for Success” (PFS) in 2009.  The pilot paired 10 BEDC Loan Guarantee clients with business mentors made up seasoned entrepreneurs, retired business people and industry experts. Based on the demand for this type of business support, the PFS program will be re-launched in 2012 to the public.  For more information on how you can sign up to be a business mentor or about getting a business mentor for your business contact jlodge@bsbdc.bm.

Jamillah Lodge is a Business Development Officer for Bermuda Economic Development Corporation. She specializes in providing aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with business development advice and loan guarantee assistance.  In addition, she manages the marketing and communications plan for the Corporation and oversees the development of a mentorship and youth entrepreneurship programme. She has a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing.  The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and should serve a general guide and should not be considered as replacement advice from a lawyer, accountant or other professional service provider. Readers should consult with the appropriate professionals as necessary.

If you have questions about starting a business in Bermuda, just ask BEDC: Email us at info@bsbdc.bm or call 292-5570.

Photo by:  by Nanagyei

Desmond Networking

5 Tips On Networking with People You Don’t Know … Yet

During my travels I have had the privilege of traveling the world at a very early age, thanks to my parents who continue to repeat that cycle today as 2 sixty-something year olds; the cycle never ends. Traveling is networking. Five key factors on networking with people you don’t know 1) Invite everyone to the party, 2) Disciple, 3) Stay on top of technology, 4) Become a pleasure to be around & 5) Be remembered

1) Invite everyone to the party

Mama says don’t talk to strangers? Well, set that aside (with discretion) and learn to speak up when you need an answer to one of the thousand questions going on in your head. A crucial aspect of networking is, understanding that everyone around can be utilized in some way to help you with whatever you are doing. Often we overlook those who can help us the most because we have it all figured out. Engage with those who are experts in their field.

Ex) Need to know the easiest way to get around an unfamiliar city? Ask a cab/bus driver.

2) Discipline

Be obedient to their culture and open your mind. No, not everyone enjoys American Football so it is wise to know that most places have their own unique style and preference. The country was in great shape before you arrived and most likely will continue to grow gracefully when you are gone.

3) Stay on top of technology

Smartphones. I also hate the annoying text message sound and vibration but it’s an investment that will get you through any situation, especially in a foreign country. Google Maps, Translator, Bus Times, Tube Map, the list of FREE apps goes on and on.

4) Being pleasurable

People usually gravitate to those who are likable, easy-going, and chill. In a unfamiliar place, it is easy to become frustrated because you are outside of your comfort zone. Adaptability is essential because it shows that you are NOT stiff and those around you will take note that you are making the necessary adjustment. Everything seems a lot easier to do once you possess positive energy – everyone loves it and are willing to help in any way they can.

5) Be remembered

When you walk into a room, you should ALWAYS maneuver with your shoulders back, head up, and ready to engage in some conversation while maintaining eye contact with the person in front of you. It is typical to ask for business cards so don’t become lost in the bunch. Offer to send a “Great to meet you today/tonight” email (from your smartphone) so when they return home they can take the time to reply and follow up with you. Before you know it, you’re invited to play golf in The Bahamas!

Finally, being yourself is the most interesting characteristic about you – try it! If exercised wisely, the above 5 points should have you in great shape on your next trip to see the sights!

 

Peter D. Maynard II

Peter D. Maynard II

The University of Law Student - aka DJ MayDay