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

Fajr

5 Tip’s for Surviving Your Start-Up’s First Year

1. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

When you try to do too many different things at one time you may find that you are doing none of them well. As a start up business owner, often we get excited and want to seize every opportunity thrown our way. Often time’s we reach a point were we have to make tough decisions and have to sacrifice the things we enjoy most to succeed in our ventures.  For example: When I first started Island Physique, I quickly saw how much energy and time it would take to build a solid foundation for my business to flourish. One of my favourite creative outlets is writing and recording music. In order for me to create music at the professional level which I desired, I understood it would take a huge investment of time and energy, and therefore, I had to make a serious to decision to put the music aside in order to fully focus on my business. I made this sacrifice for the sake of mastering my passion for fitness and entrepreneurship…..will I create music in the future? Of course! But in these early stages of my business I’ve chosen to direct the majority of my energy into seeing my business off the ground.

2. Keep Cost Down

Look at all of your expenses and seize every opportunity to save. Your first year will be a year of hard work and sacrifice. Everything and anything that you are able to do yourself, do it! I regularly advertise on Facebook for FREE and have been successful in gaining new clients this way. I often post flyers in grocery stores, coffee shops, take-out restaurants and places where I know my target market frequently visit.

3. Communicate with your customers and others with careers in the same industry

Doing market research as a start up can help you to avoid many mistakes. Network with others in the same field to learn about their experiences. Talk to your customers and ask them for feedback on the service you are providing and ways that you can improve their experience.

4. Keep Track

One of the most difficult duties I’ve found in my start up is sticking to a budget and keeping track of money coming in and money going out. My advise is to create a strict discipline of keeping a budget for your business expenses and also a running Cash Flow Statement so that you can track your business’s financial growth or decline. This will aid you in making more realistic financial decisions and projections.

5. Location

It’s important to know your customers and the ones that you want to attract. Place yourself in a convenient location where your ideal customers frequently travel so that it increases the likelihood of them choosing your services.

Fajr Bashir

Fajr Bashir

Contributor

Fajr Bashir is Owner & Certified Personal Trainer at Island Physique. Island Physique specializes in personal and group fitness training, including bootcamps and comprehensive fitness programs to assist individuals in achieving optimum health and weight-loss results.