I remember once receiving an invitation to join a ‘mastermind’ group of female entrepreneurs.
“Become part of an intimate, band of leaders who understands your trials and tribulations,” it beckoned. “Together, we can take your business to giddy heights.”
I eagerly clicked on.
“WARNING!” It cautioned. “This level of support does not come cheap. You will need a minimum investment of £18,000 + VAT. Time wasters need not apply.”
If you have the money, then a good mentor is worth every penny.
However, if like me, you don’t have a cool £18,000 plus VAT lying around for this particular purpose, you can still source quality support for your business – without blowing your budget and quite likely, closer home than you think!
I personally benefit from this informal type of mentoring and highly recommend it if you can partner up with the right person. Obviously, this type of mentoring works particularly well if there is someone you already know and get on well with within your professional network. But equally, if you make good use of on- or offline communities (see below), then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t approach someone else whom you have identified might be able to help you.
Just seize the bull by the horns and ask if they will help you. I have found fellow micro-biz owners to be incredibly giving of their time and advice. The one thing we have in common is that we have made – and indeed learnt from – the odd mistake or two. As a result, we are often only too keen to help others in a similar situation.
Of course, this is not just about what the other person can do for you, but what you can do for them in return, so be sure to offer an area of your own expertise as well. It need only be an ad-hoc arrangement where you check in with each other from time to time to see how you are both getting on.
Where possible, make use of Central Government and Enterprise Agencies
Cut-backs on government funding has meant that sadly, not all local authorities are able to offer free business support. However, I would still recommend you make your local authority your first port of call. If they are unable to provide free support, they will usually have links to local Enterprise Agencies who can provide it at an affordable rate. A full list of agencies – both national and local by London borough – is available on my website at Work Your Way.
Make good use of Small and Micro-biz Communities
Communities like this one here at the Small Business Blog, Tony Robinson’s Enterprise Rockers and my own at Work Your Way truly serve micro businesses (include in this freelancers, contractors and the like) with free information and support. We’re invaluable for businesses operating on a shoe string. If we personally can’t find an answer for you, we’ll usually be able to point you in the direction of someone who can.