Have you ran a business before? Have you made every mistake in the world? If you have answered no to either of these questions you probably need a mentor.
The benefits of having a mentor when you start your own business can be the difference between success and failure. Finding the right mentor with the the experience of the industry you are trying to get into will help you not only learn how to run your business better but will also help you to limit the mistakes and risk associated with that type of company.
A mentor will be able to guide you on your journey and most likely has made the mistakes that you hope to be able to take advantage of. A mentor will be able to help you limit the risks involved in starting a new business and how to react when these types of problems happen. A mentor is someone who serves as an example. Truly effective mentors do what they do for a couple reasons: they want to help you succeed and truly love what they do. They aren't working with you to make money or to boost their egos, or to be able to claim volunteer time on their resume. They work with you because they are interested in helping people and want to share the knowledge that life and experiences have given to them.
When you think of a mentor, you most likely think of an older person who remembers what life was like when he was in your position and wants to help you avoid some of the mistakes he made. While this does describe some mentors, the key to focus on is they do have considerably more experience and connections than you have. If you are starting a small clothing line business, you don't want a mentor who is a senior executive at a large software company, their skills and knowledge wouldn't help you out at all. You want someone who has started a business in your industry and who has made many of the mistakes you hope to avoid.
Finding a mentor will be a long process. You can't just go out and recruit someone to be your mentor; you have to let such a relationship develop over time. For starters, just get out there and network. Make a list of the successful people in your community that you admire. Ask them to lunch, or just ask them to meet with you for 30 minutes. Go to luncheons, seminars, talks and conferences.
My experience came from my grandfather and the businesses I worked for. My grandfather successfully operated a company called Bostic Plumbing that offered electrical, plumbing and air conditioning services in the Mid-Ohio region as well as handful of other related companies. I would work for him and learn from him the importance of treating your employees right and doing great work. In regards to the companies I have worked for, I have always had the blessing of working with the owners first hand, so I got to see how they react and make the decisions they need to make in order to operate their companies and the idea of always putting out your best effort and the leadership qualities necessary to effectively lead their management teams and employees.
Right now take a moment and think about the type of business or idea you are wanting to go after, is there anyone that you can reach out to that can help you and offer you advice to reaching that dream and making it a reality?