You may have heard the motivational quote: “Faster alone, further together.” When it comes to supporting small business, mentorship is a key resource that can help entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. That’s why at FOUND/LA, connecting entrepreneurs with mentorship support is a key pillar of the work we do to support the small business community.
The evidence for mentorship is not just anecdotal: there are hard statistics to back up the benefits of having a mentor. According to a multi-year survey by Sun Microsystems, employees who received mentoring were promoted five times more often than people who didn’t have mentors. In addition, mentorship helped retain employees: both those being mentored AND those doing the mentoring. In fact, the Sun Microsystems study found that their mentorship program saved them approximately $6.7 million dollars in employee training, thanks to the higher rate of retention among employees who participated.
Mentorship doesn’t just help individual employees: it also helps entire small businesses thrive. According to a UPS survey, 70% of small business owners that receive just three hours mentoring survive for five years or more. That’s double the rate of those who do not receive mentoring. According to W. Kenneth Yancy, CEO of the small business non-profit SCORE, “A mentor can help navigate the complex challenges that often come with being a business owner, and the guidance from someone who has been there themselves can be a real asset.”
So you’re convinced: you want to find a mentor. But where do you begin? Lisa Fain, CEO of the Center for Mentoring Excellence, shared a few ideas in an NPR Life Kit episode about mentorship. Her biggest piece of advice? Be a human. Consider reaching out to existing relationships before sending a bunch of cold LinkedIn DMs to aspirational strangers. In that same vein, build the relationship naturally, get to know them as a person. Let them know exactly what you’re hoping to learn, how often you want to meet, and how you’d like the meetings to run. That way, you’re both on the same page from the beginning.
Looking for someone with experience your specific industry? Another incredible resource for small business owners is with one our favorite organizations, Pacific Community Ventures (PCV). PCV’s Small Business Advising and Mentoring Program is a great service for those interested in a more structured mentorship introduction. The Small Business Advising program matches business owners who are beyond the startup phase with coaches and mentors who are experts in your industry. They provide tailored, hands-on advice, and work with you to grow your business over time. The best part? The program is completely free and confidential. We promise you won’t regret it – companies who work with PCV’s mentors increase their annual revenue by 20% on average. If you’re not being mentored, you’re literally leaving money on the table.
Other great mentorship resources include National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Los Angeles, SCORE LA, and Women Founders Network. Visit our Resources page for a complete list of small business resources, or don’t be afraid to reach out to us directly if you need help figuring out what the best program is for you.
88% of business owners say having a mentor is invaluable. So if you’re looking for ways to increase your revenue AND your satisfaction, consider moving “find a mentor” to the top of that to-do list we know you’re cranking through.