Unless you’re one of the lucky few to call Melinda and Bill Gates Mom and Pop, you could probably use a business mentor. (Fun fact: they have three kids and odds are, one of them ain’t you).
Having a great business idea is one thing, but understanding the difference between an LLC and an S Corporation, or knowing how to correctly file taxes, or getting the real lowdown on social media marketing or pay-per-click advertising can quickly become overwhelming.
Here are some free ways to get the business mentorship you need:
1. Visit a SCORE representative.
The Service Core of Retired Executives is a fifty-plus year old nonprofit organization supported by the US Small Business Administration. It’s easy to enter your info and be matched with an expert in whatever you need be it marketing, accounting, business planning. They can help you with just about anything from the tools you need to succeed to budgeting, sales, and design.
The best news: it’s 100% free! These are former CEOs, venture capitalists — people at the top of their game who sincerely want to help out the next generation of business execs and business owners. SCORE also offers free webinars and on-demand online courses.
Our recommendation is to be prepared with the questions you want answered. Practice what you want to say so that you can make the most of your time. Bonus: go in with your pitch; you never know what might happen.
Note: The Small Business Administration website is a go-to online resource for business owners. You may even be able to get many of your questions answered there before meeting a mentor in person.
2. Put on your networking hat.
Get over it. Networking is not a dirty word. When looking for business mentorship try these free resources first:
- Meetup.com events (search by location and topic of interest, in this case your specific industry or “entrepreneur”)
- LinkedIn to find people you know or connections of people you know with specific business-related specialities
- High school or college alumni groups, guidance counselors, former employers, church groups
And if nothing else comes of these relationships from a mentor/mentee perspective, at least you’ve announced to a host of people that you’re in business. Woo hoo! Free marketing!
3. Watch a (great) video.
TED Talks: TED Talks are presentations delivered by top-notch game-changers in the world of Technology, Education, and Design. Lucky for you, they are all readily available and filterable by topic, length, and speaker. Here are a few of our favorites:
- How Great Leaders Inspire Action – Simon Sinek
- Do What You Love (No Excuses!) – Gary Vaynerchuk
- The Mind Behind Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity – Elon Musk
Our recommendation: if you’re strapped for time (and we all are), consider watching one insightful video a week. Put it on while you’re folding laundry or getting dressed for work.
Henry Green is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas who helps small businesses and entrepreneurs improve their online presence through marketing, social media, and website optimization.