When you are an entrepreneur, you are the boss, and everyone comes to you when they need help with their work. But, who do you go to when you need help? Every entrepreneur should have at least one mentor, someone who can offer advice, help solving problems, etc. who they can turn to. Luckily, there are loads of wonderful websites that offer resources for mentorship and advice from professionals. Here are our top picks.
Find tens of thousands of experts in a number of business niches through the Service Corps of Retired Executives who are there to help you with all of your business issues. Here you will find tens of thousands of people who want to be there to help people just like you succeed with your small business.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) supports SCORE. Mentors aren’t there to earn money. They are volunteers, and offer most services at no cost. Search for mentors by geographical area, area of expertise, etc. Some of the resources offered by the SBA include Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Women’s Business Centers (WBC), Veteran’s Business Outreach Centers (VBOC), Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), and offers tips for finding mentors and working with them. Don’t forget to look for links to the Mentor-Protégé Program.
This mentorship program is sponsored by Hewlett-Packard, Google, Capital One, and other top organizations. This is a free service that helps business owners hook up with mentors. All you have to do is register, create your profile that describes what you are looking for in a mentor, and then wait for interested mentors to contact you. This is easy to do, and it only takes a few minutes to get started. You can also contact mentors if there is someone specific you want to talk to, or get involved with MicroMentor groups.
If you are planning on moving to a new business location, you need to make sure that the new location is going to meet your technical needs. For instance, if you currently have a home office, but you are going to move into a larger space, it must be able to accommodate the technology you are currently using, with the ability to grow. Find out what questions to ask with this informative resource.
#5. The 8(a) Mentor-Protégé Program
This is through the government’s 8(a) Business Development Program, which is an assistant program for businesses that are either 51% owned or controlled by persons who are socially and/or economically disadvantaged. The business must be in the beginning or developmental stages, have not received any other 8(a) contracts, and be half the size of smaller than companies in the NAICS code. You may have one mentor at a time, and mentors may offer financial assistance if they want to. An advantage to using this program is that federal agencies tend to give preference to Protégé contractors when it comes time to bid on government projects.
#6. Private Mentoring Firms
Do an online search for private mentoring firms, where you can find loads of mentors from all walks of life, and in all areas of expertise. Some suggestions include Join Bain and Andrew Sobel. Find firms that work with specific groups, such as women, minorities, etc. Keep in mind that these firms usually charge fees for their services.
This allows those who have common interests to set up meetings in their localities. There are more than 15 million members, many in the US. Meetup can be about specific business issues, connecting entrepreneurs with startup founders, etc. Enter your query, and see how many groups come up.
#8. Social Media
Use your social media for more than chatting with friends and playing games. Use it to make great business contacts, and find the right mentors. You can find all kinds of mentor group pages, company pages, and a lot more. Use LinkedIn to find specific business mentorship groups, and search other social media sites for possible mentors based on their job titles.
#9. Just Answer
This is a great question and answer site. In fact, the site’s tagline is “wisdom when you want it”. You can choose from any field, ask a question, and within 24 hours you will have an answer through the Just Answer on-site chat system. Here you will find doctors, computer techs, lawyers, and a host of other life professionals.
You need not worry about getting the wrong information from people who don’t know what they are talking about, because in order for professionals to be accepted to the site, they must prove that they have the right credentials, and pass a test in their field of expertise. You will be charged from $10 per question, depending on how in-depth the question is and how fast you need answers.
#10. Live Person
Some people would rather talk to an expert on a particular subject. With Live Person, you can find a huge list of experts who are knowledgeable on just about any topic you can think of. The only problem is that there is no vetting of professionals, so you have to take a lot of the information with a grain of salt until you can confirm that it is correct. Experts set their own rates, so you could pay anywhere from $1 to $2.95 per minute of chatting.
This is a new service from Skype that is there to help entrepreneurs connect with each other and share their expertise and knowledge. You can create chat opportunities, which consist of five to 15-minute chat sessions on particular topics. Or, you can have a general consultation with a particular expert. Consultation s are free, so remember that some of the experts may try to advertise other services that they will want you to pay for. There aren’t many experts on here yet, but it is still pretty new, so give it time. It will soon start to catch on with more and more experts, and you will have a wealth of information at your fingertips.
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