A Small Business Mentor May Be Just
What Your Business Needs

Rieva Lesonsky, Award-Winning Journalist on Small Business

Using a small business mentor to help you think through strategic decisions can reduce your stress and increase the chance you’ll reach your business goals.

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for several years, all business owners have questions, face challenges, and need help. Working with a small business mentor may be one of the best ways to get the answers and solutions you need.

Why You Need a Business Mentor

Having a mentor can change the playing field for a small business,” according to the Small Business Administration, and research shows that small business owners who are mentored achieve higher revenue and increased business growth.

Given that mentors can lead to success, let’s look at who they are, how they can help you, where to find them, and what they cost.

Mentors for small business owners are typically people who have “been there, done that.” They’ve often experienced the challenges you’re facing and can offer valuable insights, guidance, advice, and a fresh perspective based on that experience.

4 Important Ways a Mentor Can Help You…and Your Business

A small business mentor can help you avoid common pitfalls, make smarter strategic decisions, and navigate challenging situations. They offer feedback and constructive criticism, keep you motivated, hold you accountable, and expand your business network.

A small business mentor can help you:

  1. Avoid common mistakes

All business owners make mistakes. It comes with the territory. Because your mentor likely made a few on their entrepreneurial journey, they can help you avoid the common pitfalls of starting and scaling a small business. 

2. Expand your network

As successful business leaders, small business mentors have valuable networks they can share with you, including potential partners, lenders, accountants, lawyers, marketing experts, and customers.

3. Build accountability

Small business startups often don’t have anyone to hold them accountable. While not having to report to anyone may feel liberating, being accountable to someone helps you stay on track, reach your goals and build self-confidence. It’s critical to have someone pointing out what you did right, what you did wrong, and how to course-correct.

4. Reduce stress

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely and stressful. Having someone you can turn to who understands your challenges can significantly affect your success. A good small business mentor is invested in your success and offers the emotional support and encouragement you need.

Remember, small business mentors are there to support and help you; they’re not there to run your business, make decisions for you or do your job.

Where Can I Find a Mentor?

There are a variety of places you can find a small business mentor:


  • Work your network
    You may have potential mentors in your network, such as former bosses, professors, or co-workers. Check with your university’s alum program as well.
  • Trade associations and business organizations
    Join your industry’s trade association, where you’ll find numerous networking opportunities. Some trade associations have formal mentorship programs.
  • Free business mentorship programs:

    SCORE is a nonprofit organization that connects small business owners with its vast network of volunteer mentors.
    • More than 10,000 mentors across the country.
    • Offers one-on-one mentorship, online counseling, workshops, and other educational services.
    • 55 percent of participating business owners reported revenue increases while working with a SCORE mentor.
    • Site: Find a SCORE mentor.


  • Small Business Development Centers:
    Small Business Development Centers provide no-cost business consulting and low-cost training to new and existing businesses.
    • Nearly 1,000 SBDCs across the country.
    • Hosted by universities, colleges, state economic development agencies, and private-sector organizations.
    • Focus on advancing through technology and supporting tech growth.
    • Site: Find an SBDC near you.
  • Minority Business Development Centers:
    The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, offering minority-owned businesses access to experts.
    • The “Enterprising Women of Color” initiative focuses on the fast-expanding minority women entrepreneur population.
    • Mentorship programs focus on supporting access to capital, contracts, and markets.
    • Site: Find an MBDA Center near you.
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center:
    The Veterans Business Organization Center (VBOC) program provides entrepreneurial development services, including business training, counseling, Boots to Business classes, and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, and military spouses.
    • 22 organizations serve as VBOCs.
    • Conduct on-site visits and review monthly financial statements.
    • Offer entrepreneurial development workshops dealing specifically with the issues of self-employment.
    • Site: Find a VBOC near you.
  • Women’s Business Centers:
    Women Business Centers provide free-to-low-cost business counseling and training to women who want to start, grow, and expand their small businesses.
    • Nearly 150 Women’s Business Centers across the country.
    • Mentorship programs focus on “leveling the playing field” for women entrepreneurs.
    • Site: Find a WBC near you.
  • National Urban League:
    The organization supports the development and growth of minority entrepreneurs to create jobs in sustainable businesses and ultimately generate wealth for the owners, their families, and their communities.

What Does a Mentor Cost?

As mentioned earlier, there are many high-quality, free mentor programs available. But, if you are interested in a paid coach, the average cost is ~$800 a month (meeting for one hour a week).

Again, you don’t need to pay this much. There are many no-cost business mentorship program options.

Find the Right Mentor

Whether you’re just beginning your entrepreneurial journey or ready to take your existing business to the next stage, finding a mentor is one of the smartest things you can do. Unlike many business consultants, mentors are in it for the long run offering ongoing support and advice. 

steve strauss portrait

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is an award-winning business journalist who has covered small businesses and entrepreneurship for over 30 years. She was the long-time editorial director at Entrepreneur magazine.

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