Opening your own business can be a dream come true. Showcasing your creativity, setting your own hours, having no boss to answer to...these attractions inspire nearly half a million startups every year.
But the dream too often turns into a nightmare. About one in five new businesses fail during their first year. Thirty percent will fail by the end of the second year, while about half will be gone in five years. These unsettling statistics can easily scare off potential startups.
However there is another statistic about small businesses that is far more positive: More than nine in 10 small business owners —92 percent — reported that mentors had a direct impact on their business survival and growth. The power of people reaching out to help you can make a major difference in your bottom line. Putting “find a mentor’’ at the top of your to-do list can mean the difference between business failure and business success.
Here are five organizations that can help your transform your dream into a sustainable business. They’ve been there, done that, found success ... and can help you do the same.
This is hardly a new organization. Founded in 1964, SCORE is a partner of the Small Business Administration and has helped more than 11 million entrepreneurs through mentoring, workshops, and educational resources. They report they have the nation’s largest network of volunteer business mentors who volunteer to pass along their knowledge and expertise to entrepreneurs starting out. Learn more at score.org.
Volunteer mentors are matched with novice entrepreneurs for an average of 20 volunteer hours to match business owners with potential mentors. MicroMentor is an innovation of Mercy Corps, a leading global humanitarian organization, and helps businesses throughout the world. For more information, visit micromentor.org.
3. The Veterans Business Outreach Center
Are you a veteran? There’s an organization that will help you build your business by providing advice and support. The Veterans Business Outreach Center offers such services as business training, counseling, and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, and military spouses looking to start or grow small businesses. Centers provide a range of offerings, including planning workshops, business plan preparation, and feasibility analysis. Learn more at their website here.
LinkedIn.com is a career-related social media site that allows you to post your resume, look for jobs, and keep up with past, present, and future colleagues. With so much business talent on the site, LinkedIn has great potential for finding mentors. Make sure your profile is up-to-date, then reach out to people whose career and experience intrigue you. Make polite, reasonable requests for a little of their time and see what happens. Here's a great article loaded with tips on how to find a mentor on LinkedIn.
5. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
This national business advocacy agency is perhaps the best organization for networking. Joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will provide you with instant access to one of the largest business networks available. Local chambers offer great opportunities to meet other professionals in your geographical area, often in relaxed, even fun settings. So bring your resume and your best smile and circulate! Find your local chamber at https://www.chamberofcommerce.com/chambers/
You want to make this year the year you finally make your entrepreneurship dreams a reality? Don't be shy...reach out for help! Be sure to express your gratitude to your mentor in the best way possible: By finding that success you are seeking and then serving as a mentor to someone who was once in your shoes. Pay it forward and keep the economy humming!
Starting a new business this year? You'll need to keep your personal and business checking accounts separate. We have a variety of accounts to suit your small business needs. Learn more here.
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