Starting a business is a difficult task. Beyond the passion and drive you have for the project, there is no limit to the number of hurdles you’ll likely face. Each of these will be new to you and, at any moment, might trip you up. To help keep you on the right track, and to offer you a professional shoulder to lean on, it’s critical to have an e-commerce mentor.
In just about every facet of life, having an e-commerce mentor helps, even when it’s simply someone to discuss issues with. However, in the professional world when starting out a business, there are a number of benefits to having such an individual at your disposal. Here are five reasons why you need to have a mentor when starting a business.
1) Free, Professional Advice
Nothing beats free. As a small business owner (or at least soon to be a small business owner) you already have plenty of expenses. From the capital, it takes to bring the business up and running to marketing, paying employees, buying the necessary goods and everything else that goes into it, money is tight. In fact, it will likely remain tight for the foreseeable future.
That’s exactly why you need to take advantage of what’s free. From creating social media accounts for your business to the free Adword dollars Google hands out after creating an account. Take advantage of everything, especially professional advice.
A mentor isn’t just free. You can ask them questions on your weekly meet up or you can seek advice when you go out for coffee. By picking their brain you receive more than just a cup of coffee with a business associate. You receive knowledge. Knowledge from someone who has walked the path before you and who knows more than you can possibly understand at your current position in the business world. So always take advantage of free, as often as you can.
2) Avoid Beginner Mistakes With an E-commerce Mentor
Beginners make mistakes. It’s part of what being a beginner is all about. Learning from your mistakes helps you discover what not to do going forward and will make you a better person for it. However, in the world of business, mistakes cost money and time. Every mistake you make in business costs you either with time, money or both. Some mistakes are minor and easily correctable. Others are major issues and can set you back considerably (if not permanently).
E-commerce Mentor(s) help you avoid these mistakes. They have been through the ringer and come out the other side. They know what goes into making a successful business and what may cause even the best idea to fail. Even if they do not have experience in your specific industry or field, they still know the business. Perhaps they are a business professor at your college or an experienced member of the local community you met at a local professional meet and greet. It doesn’t matter where they came from or what they’ve worked in, they know the business and they know what to expect.
The creation of any business, regardless of location or industry, shares many similarities. An E-commerce mentor can help you sidestep the common problems a new business faces. Yes, they can’t save you from all the mistakes you will make, because there are mistakes along every path. So while it is impossible to completely avoid mistakes in the world of business, you can still cut down on these costly problems with the aid of your mentor. For all other mistakes you can’t avoid, just make sure to learn from them (and your mentor can likely help you with this as well).
3) Networking With Mentors
More often than not, it’s not always what you know, it’s who you know. That’s the case in almost every industry (some more than others, but it typically rings true universally). You might want to go it alone, be a lone wolf, and achieve without the aid of anyone around you. If that’s your prerogative, by all means, go that route. However, networking and working with others will likely help you reach your end goal faster.
Your mentor doesn’t just provide an ear to listen to and someone to offer advice. They provide you with networking opportunities. Chances are, you are not the only individual they have taken under their wing. Or, at the very least, they know others who are in similar situations or who are running other businesses. You may bring up an idea and your mentor might know someone who can help.
Use your mentor as someone who can forge connections. They don’t need to facilitate any kind of deals (and often they will avoid any conflict of interest by simply introducing the two of you and moving on). However it goes, never turn down a networking opportunity. You never know whom you’re going to meet and how it will change the long-term benefits of your business.
4) Someone You Can Trust
Unless you’re surrounded by business professionals, both with your friends and in the family, chances are you don’t have someone who can give you trustworthy advice. Sure, you can ask your friend who works in an accounting firm about some basic money suggestions, and perhaps you know someone who works in marketing, but none of them are big picture individuals. They do not see the forest through the trees. You need someone who understands the entire business and who can give you trustworthy advice.
A mentor is able to do this. A quality mentor is someone who not only gives you quality advice, but they aren’t afraid to tell you things you don’t want to hear. They will be straight with you and tell you the chances of success and what you need to do. The problem with asking friends and family is they might sugar coat their suggestions or not tell you something that might upset you. An advisor and mentor is someone who you not only trust but is someone you know will tell you the absolute truth, whether you want to hear it or not. In the world of business, you often need blunt answers, otherwise, you’ll end up doing something that doesn’t work, simply because nobody had the decency to tell you the truth.
5) Know Where You Need to Improve
It’s difficult to know your own faults. This isn’t unique to just you though. Most people are unable to see their own faults or what needs to be improved upon. When working creatively, you spend weeks, if not years working on a particular project. You’ve put your own sweat into it. You’ve given up spending time with family members and friends to work on this. So naturally, to you, it’s perfect. But there are times it takes an outsider’s thoughtful eye to identify what needs improving.
This is where a mentor comes in. A mentor is able to look over the situation with fresh, educated, and experienced eyes before telling you what needs to improve. Without a mentor, you’ll struggle to ever grow. Yes, you will learn from the mistakes you understand, but there’s so much more to growing in the world of business than just making mistakes and attempting to recover from them. There are blemishes and cracks in the business you’ll likely never see, but the eye of a mentor spots it right away. It might be something you never imagined could be a problem, yet it might be what’s holding you back.
Freeing yourself to a mentor may make you feel as if you’ve exposed yourself, and in many ways, this is exactly what it’s like. They are brutally honest and don’t try to downplay any of the issues they spot. It is important for you to listen to them. What they say might sting. After all, you’ve put all this time and energy into it. However, what they tell you isn’t designed to hurt. It’s designed to help. It’s constructive criticism. They see the faults and point them out so that you can see these issues as well. From there, you can then go about correcting the problems.
By listening to a mentor as they point out your faults and the problems with a business, you’ll not only grow as a business professional but your company will become stronger at the same time.
Mentors have the capability of preventing you and your business from running headfirst into disaster. Problems may strike at any moment, especially for the new business owner.
Running a business takes time and with it learning. There’s always a learning curve whenever it comes to business, regardless of industry and location. With the help of mentors though, you’ll have a professional ear to talk to and access to knowledge accumulated from their own experience.
So as you move closer to opening a business, even if still in the early formation stages, do what you can to seek out a mentor who’s willing to help along the way.