Business mentoring is a relationship between you, as an entrepreneur, and someone with business experience who is willing to act as a guide. The business mentor offers advice, guidance and support to help you run and improve your business.
It can involve face-to-face meetings or online discussions - or a combination of both - depending on which arrangement is best for both parties.
Formal and informal mentoring
It's likely that your mentor will stay in regular contact with you through meetings, telephone calls and emails. The nature of the relationship may vary from being fairly casual - eg a monthly telephone call or informal visit - to being more formal and structured - eg setting meeting agendas and business objectives.
Some mentoring services are free and others are paid for or available by subscription to an organisation. Not all mentors have to be formally established as such. Friends, family and business contacts can all become involved in unofficial mentoring.
How to find a business mentor
- There are several organisations that make mentors available to businesses. Many of these are represented on the national business mentoring network, Mentorsme.co.uk, which provides access to around 10,000 mentors - offering both free and paid for mentoring. Find out more about Mentorsme.co.uk.
- Mentoring is a great way of getting business guidance and support on an ongoing basis. You choose how formal or informal you want the process to be - and it's usually free. There are many other sources of business mentors, including some geared specifically towards supporting local businesses, young entrepreneurs or specific business sectors - see further information for finding or becoming a business mentor.
- The Northern Ireland business support finder is a searchable database that can help you find publicly-funded and not-for-profit sources of assistance you may be eligible to apply for. Support includes free or subsidised advice and mentoring services. Search for business support.
- Networking events can provide an opportunity to meet like-minded entrepreneurs and establish a relationship with a business mentor. See Northern Ireland business networks. You can use the events finder to find networking events in your local area.