Becoming an entrepreneur is exciting, but it can also be a bit scary. You’re stepping into uncharted territory, and even if you’ve taken all the courses and read all the books, some things are best learned by experience. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave these things completely to trial and error.
Getting feedback and advice from fellow businesswomen can be a huge help to entrepreneurs who are just starting out. By seeking out a mentor, you give yourself the opportunity to learn from someone who has been there. You can benefit from her experience, avoiding common mistakes and learning the tricks to running a successful business.
Why a Woman Mentor?
It’s a known fact that women do business differently from men. The sexes tend to have different strengths and weaknesses from each other, as well as a different overall approach. That’s not to say that men and women in business have nothing in common, just that they do not usually run their businesses in the same way.
Working with a female mentor offers several advantages. These include:
* Women have experienced the hurdles associated with becoming a successful female. Although women now make up a significant portion of business owners, it hasn’t always been that way. Society once frowned upon women entrepreneurs, and as a result they faced obstacles that were not an issue for men. Luckily for all most of those obstacles have been overcome today, but many women simply prefer to have another woman as their mentor.
* A female mentor can be a great source of inspiration. While their achievements are quite impressive, successful businessmen are not uncommon. Women who have made it to the top, however, are in relatively short supply. When the going gets tough, your mentor will serve as a living, breathing example that you can succeed.
* Women may be more likely to help you with the basic needs of a budding entrepreneur. For example, if you lack a proper business wardrobe, a woman entrepreneur may be willing to lend you a suit or help you find one at a low price. So-called “little things” such as this are more likely to seem alien to a businessman.
Where to Get a Mentor
Many entrepreneurial women like the idea of getting a mentor but don’t know how to go about getting one. They don’t just fall out of the sky, after all. But finding someone to show you the ropes is easier than you might think.
One way to find a mentor is through networking. Your local Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start. You can also meet fellow businesswomen at trade shows, and you can connect with them via online networking groups. When you find someone you click with, you could ask if she would be willing to give you some pointers.
Another way to find a mentor is through formal mentoring programs. Groups such as SCORE (in the US) connect entrepreneurs with seasoned veterans who can help them succeed. Some such programs connect you with someone to ask questions as needed, while others take a more structured approach with scheduled meetings and evaluations.
A mentor can be a great asset to your business efforts. A female mentor can provide you with the understanding and support you need to get started on the right foot. Many mentorships are completely free, so there’s no reason for any entrepreneur not to take advantage of them.
Of course, when you do access free programs your commitment may not be as high as if you pay for the privilege – there are several membership groups and coaches that can take a mentorship role in your life and business. Personally, I’m currently a member of WOW! Biz Tribe (which is only a $25 a month investment) and I’ve been a member of Shankminds for years (but that one isn’t just women…)