Seriously, get yourself a mentor - Generocity Philly

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Aug. 8, 2016 2:50 pm

Seriously, get yourself a mentor

Five reasons why social entrepreneurs should seek a business mentor — and some suggestions for where to find one.

Melissa Rowe, center, with mentors Lindsay Hull and Ben Pietrzyk of Uncommon Individual Foundation.

(Courtesy photo)

Editor's note: The author’s organization, Capture Greatness!, is a member of Uncommon Individual Foundation’s Entrepreneur Mentorship Program. That relationship is unrelated to this piece.

Capture Greatness! founder Melissa Rowe‘s column, Social Good and the Solopreneur, is dedicated to local change makers who are doing their part to make their corner of the world a better place. Melissa will discuss launching passion projects to build businesses on shoestring budgets and with a single-person army.


When it comes to picking up momentum or taking our ventures to new levels of success, all solopreneurs need to know where to find solid advice, great resources and coaching.

Ever heard the expression “teamwork makes the dream work”? Even on a limited budget and no paid staff, here’s an easy solution to create a team of two: Get yourself a mentor. Everything from responding to emails to raising money falls on your shoulders. Wouldn’t you like to know that you had someone to lean on?

Here are five reasons why you should seek a business mentor and some suggestions for where to find the right one for you.

1. Get an objective opinion

For those of us in the social good sector, leading from our hearts is second nature. We see a need, we want to address it and we go about it the best way we know how. The challenge with being so close to the work is that sometimes we have tunnel vision and can’t assess what’s going on in the periphery. 

Mentors help us see the whole picture and are better able to offer advice and insight from an objective point of view. Having someone in your corner who has found success as an entrepreneur is a major value-add to solopreneurs. Big decisions don’t have to be so scary when you know you have a partner with the sole goal of helping you find success.

WHERE TO GO:

  • Entrepreneur Works offers access to business experts through trainings, classes and events. From offering skills training to helping new business owners secure financing, this organization is dishing major advice to help folks in Philadelphia and Chester take their business idea to the next level.

2. Employ 0thers’ expertise

How often are we reminded that we don’t know what we don’t know? No matter how many books you may have on a subject, nothing beats getting to tap the brain of someone who has real world experience in areas that are challenging us.

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When choosing a mentor, look for someone who brings skills and knowledge in areas that you haven’t found success in, yet. The merging of your strengths and theirs will help to propel your social venture to new heights and help you reach goals quickly.

WHERE TO GO:

  • You can choose between a one-time session or continued support with the flexibility of SCORE Philadelphia mentors. Meetings can be held in a number of locations — and what’s even more awesome is it’s absolutely free to meet with someone.

3. Access more resources

If your venture is still in its early stages and you find yourself needing advice and resources to get your venture on solid footing, you should consider applying for a formal mentorship program. These types of programs are designed to eliminate many obstacles on the road to success and provide a variety of supports that startups usually can’t afford.

WHERE TO GO:

  • Organizations such as Uncommon Individual Foundation offers a robust team of professional entrepreneurs, program associates, and a long list of resources to companies in its Entrepreneur Mentorship Program.

4. Get a growth spurt

Maybe your venture is out of its infancy stage and you are looking for help with scaling your business. With a strong operating model and some earned revenue under your belt, your goal might be to grow your venture to do more good.

WHERE TO GO:

  • Mentorship comes in all shapes and sizes, and The Enterprise Center has two programs that are ideal for solopreneurs looking to grow: ELevate! is a 12-month acceleration group and ScaleUp is specifically for ventures with sales of more than $150K.

5. Connect with a community

Birds of a feather flock together — and the company you keep can have a huge impact on the goals you are able to reach. Outside of traditional mentoring arrangements, consider peer-to-peer mentorship if you feel like you have expertise you can give in exchange.

WHERE TO GO:

  • Coworking space VentureF0rth combines both mentoring and collaborative workspaces. In addition to events and programming that helps you make your business sustainable, you can benefit from the energy and momentum of working with fellow entrepreneurs.

Whatever your business needs are or challenges you find yourself facing, there’s probably someone or some organization ready to propel you forward.

Solopreneurs, we’d love to hear from you! Let us know one challenge you are facing in the comments section below.

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