Volume 2 Issue 9
The Benefits of Having a Mentor as a Small Business Owner
By Lourdes Cortez
As a small business owner you understand the need to become more business savvy. So that you can do that, finding someone to act as a mentor can be key to your business growth and success. A business mentor is someone with more experience, often in your field, who you look up to as a role model for success.
All of us, at some point, need to get advice about growing our business. Seeking out someone who is a “mover and shaker” can give us some important insight on how to develop professionally.
Clearly, having a mentor can further your growth as a small business owner. According to the CEO of Market Mentor, Carolyn Rodz suggests “Make your introduction and business purpose known to your prospective mentor. Then ask this person to be your mentor. People feel worthwhile knowing they have a positive influence on others.”
Now how can someone like you find and benefit from having a professional mentor?
First, to find a great mentor who will fit your needs, look to the people who inspire you among those you’re already interacting and working with now. They should be people who know you, have seen how you work and to whom you have already shown your potential.
Second, remember to select someone who has influence in the business circles you are or want to be in. By knowing someone who has been successful within your own industry or line of work, you may also be able to expand your own network. More than likely they know people you want to be affiliated with. Don’t be afraid to ask for an introduction to someone they know with whom you may want to do business with in the future.
Third, if you don’t know your prospective mentor very well, you can deepen your relationship using social media tools. Follow their work, re-tweet their posts, or make positive comments about what they do, especially on their blogs. By using social media you can make them even more aware of you and the work that you do.
Fourth, as a small business owner, you recognize that having a mentor means they can provide you with another perspective on how you run your business. For example, they may see how you can be more productive in one area of your business or where cost-saving measures can be put into practice in another area.
Mentors can also help you to open doors to a new business opportunity. This is because they have already
been there in building a business and can help you to avoid the pitfalls.
A good mentor can also help you with your interpersonal skills by giving you constructive criticism about your approach to customers or clients and other people.
Fifth, don’t be afraid to be specific about what you need. For example, ask your mentor what are the best meetings or events to attend, or the organizations and associations to join for the most benefit to you and your business. Why do you think so many powerful business people are invited to join the boards of influential for profit and non-profit organizations?
Finally, be approachable and open with your mentor. Mentors will make time to help you if they find it to be enjoyable and know that they are having a positive impact on you and your career as a business owner or professional
Clearly, choosing a mentor is a very important way to increase your personal value. With a mentor you have so much to gain. So make this a priority on your to-do list TODAY!
Lourdes Cortez, President/CEO of North Jersey Federal Credit Union, hails from Paterson. In 1984, she began her career at North Jersey Federal and served in several roles. In 2004, she was promoted to VP of Operations and soon thereafter became Senior VP and in 2005 was named President and CEO.
In February 2014, Cortez was appointed to the Board of Trustees of William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ. She also serves on the boards of the Workforce Investment Board of Passaic County, and Visions Academy Charter School in Newark, and as President of the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson and Passaic. Cortez is the chairperson for the North Jersey Federal Credit Union Foundation and assistant treasurer for the Board of Directors of the Executive Women of NJ. She has volunteered for numerous organizations including La Casa De Don Pedro, the March of Dimes, Eva’s Village in Paterson and the American Cancer Society.
As the first Latina CEO of a credit union in New Jersey, Cortez has been honored by NJ Biz magazine, which named her one of the “Best 50 Women in Business” in New Jersey. Other awards include: the North Jersey Regional Chamber of Commerce, 2010 Star Award in Business, the 2010 Salute to the Policy Makers Award from Executive Women of NJ, the 2012 Women of Achievement Award from the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, the 2015 Woman of Influence award from Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey, and is a 2015 honoree with the Hispanic Business Council Scholarship Foundation of NJ.