So you’ve been in the business game for a little while and have a pretty solid foundation for your company. When you first started out you never thought you would get to this point – it almost seemed like a dream. Now you’re at a point where you’ve managed to quit worrying about paying your bills on time and everything runs like a well-oiled machine.
Remember how it felt to be so nervous about the future all the time? There are thousands of people just like you out there who need guidance and comfort in their daily business lives. While some of them may be direct competitors, most are not. Since we’re all in this small business game together, you should consider becoming a mentor.
Tasha Robinson, founder of the online clothing store Imperfect Conceptsrecently told us that her mentors – people she met through retail stores and later, online, were integral in the success of her business.
Specifically, as a female business owner, you have access to knowledge and ideas to help foster any number of young female business owners out there. You can give them perspective on their unique struggles and issues that others simply cannot. You can literally change someone’s life by sitting with them a while and showing them the ropes.
Having someone with experience there to guide you can do wonders. Try to help them isolate what their biggest problems are. After all, you don’t want to just aid them “with business” as that’s way too broad of a subject. You’re likely to be there forever and they would likely be better off taking a few classes instead.
If you whittle the problems down to a few key issues, though, it can give them a strong springboard for the rest of their business. For example, if they are having trouble finding customers, you can give them tips about networking, social media and PR.
As mentioned, be sure to cover some of the more unique challenges a young female business owner will face in her professional life. This can prepare her for any discrimination she’ll face – and believe it or not, it still happens to some women in this day and age – as well as the amazing support she can expect from her peers.
How to Help
So how do you find these intrepid entrepreneurs anyway? Do you just walk down the street knocking on doors asking if they need a mentor? Hint: probably not a good idea to actually do that.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) actually has a fairly robust mentorship organization list. You can sign up with the organizations listed and volunteer your time either in person or, in many cases, through online chats. There are even opportunities to become an instructor for workshops where you may find some newbie business owners you want to help.
Also consider registering with any local trade associations you fall under. They could be in your industry or more generic small business ones, but all can be helpful to local owners. Also, many of these associations are focused on specific groups, like ethnic minorities or gender. If you want to concentrate on helping out young women see if there’s a female focused trade association you can register with.
Other than that, just keep your ears and eyes peeled for anyone in your network who needs help. After all, these will be the movers and shakers of tomorrow, and they’ll remember how much help you gave them later on.