Top of Mind: The Value of Mentors for Business Success

In Google+ Hangouts, organized for 2013 National Small Business Week, experts “got together” to talk about the entrepreneurial landscape and topics important for small-business owners to know. In this webinar, leaders from small business centers and the U.S. Small Business Administration discussed mentors and shared their advice on finding that integral help that comes from mentors and their experience.

1. To Learn, Get Your Hands in the Soil

“The only way you learn to do anything is to go get your hands in that soil. To become a farmer, you’ve got to put your hands in the soil and learn how to do it. To become a quarterback in the National Football League you gotta go out and you gotta play and you gotta learn from other people. And in business, I’ve started my own businesses, 20 of them, from the dirt. Did I ever make any mistakes? Well, I’ve made a lot of mistakes… We learn from mentors, other people who have had their hands in the soil.”

―Fran Tarkenton, NFL legend and entrepreneur –

2. Recognize that You Don’t Know Everything

“The place to start is to recognize that even if you don’t know everything about your small business, for example you may be the best carpenter or plumber on the planet, you may be the best accountant on the planet, you may have the best pizza sauce available on the planet. In other words, every business owner has a product or a service which they know about. But not all of them know about things like accounting or maintaining the books or how to put together a marketing plan… We have folks with thousands of years of accumulated experience who can help… Get in touch with one of our partners, and they will be your partner in getting to success.”

―Michael Chodos, U.S. Small Business Administration Entrepreneurial Development –

3. Take It One Piece at a Time

“Everybody worries about failing. Everybody wants their business to be a success… The way you deal with the fear is you take it one piece at a time. And you talk to somebody who has gone through this before, who has familiarity and experience with the kind of business that you’re starting and who has gone through the planning process and has really got a lot of knowledge about those individual building blocks for success.”

―Michael Chodos, U.S. Small Business Administration Entrepreneurial Development,

4. Shadow a Business

“One of the most creative ways that I have found businesses get over that big hurdle [the building blocks] is to find another business to shadow. Entrepreneurs care about other entrepreneurs.”

―Carol Lopucki, Director of Michigan Small Business Technology & Development Center

5. Join a Peer-to-Peer Business Group

“It works well to find a peer-to-peer group of businesses that are in the same growth stage you are. It works well to come together once a month and meet to discuss the same areas in which you are growing together.”

―Amanda Schultz, Montana Women’s Business Center

6. Get Help

“The more help that you can get in thinking through your business, the better off you’ll be.”

―Jean Setzfand, AARP

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