Tag Archives: mentoring

Your Year-End Checklist: Items to Review with Your SCORE Mentor

As 2017 winds down, it’s time to think about what’s ahead for your business in 2018. The best way to start is by reflecting on what went right—and not so right—for your company over the past year, and considering where opportunities lie in the new year.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. SCORE mentors are here to serve as sounding boards and advisors as you evaluate your business and plan for the future.

Here’s a checklist of essential items a SCORE mentor can help you assess:

  • Your business plan (road map)

It’s rare that a company writes a business plan that completely stays the same over time. With so many internal and external influences, your company’s procedures, goals, and objectives are bound to change. Now is the perfect time to revisit your business plan and update it, so it accurately reflects the roadmap you’re envisioning for your business in 2018.

  • Your budget

Take an objective look at your financials (including comparing your actual revenues and expenses to those that you budgeted in 2017). Use that information to identify discrepancies that need further analysis and to realistically forecast your budget for 2018.

 

  • Your marketing strategy and tactics

Consider how effective your efforts have been throughout the year. What campaigns and activities have provided the most ROI and what has fallen flat? Are you on the right social media channels to reach your target audience? Identify your successes and failures so that you can develop a solid marketing plan for the upcoming year.

 

  • Your products and services

Will it make sense to expand or enhance the portfolio of products and services that you offer? Consider what customers have been asking for and market trends. Also, identify any products and services that are failing to sell or that sell but aren’t profitable. You may want to consider removing them from your offerings.

 

  • Your market

Sometimes the difference between the success and failure of a product or service can lie in reaching the right prospects. Are you targeting the ideal market segments in your marketing and sales efforts? You may find you need to change your focus or extend your brand’s reach to obtain better revenue opportunities.

 

  • Your systems and processes

Your business’s profitability can depend upon how efficiently you run your company. Are you able to keep up with sales inquiries? Are you able to fulfill the demand for your products and services? If you’re having issues with these and other aspects of running your business, you may need to implement (or fix) processes and systems that enable you to operate your business more effectively. Or you might discover you need to outsource some tasks or hire employees.

 

Owning a business requires an open, objective mindset and a willingness to adapt if you want to put it on a trajectory of success. SCORE mentors can help you down that path by providing insight and guidance as you review your business’s past performance and goals for growth. Mentoring is free, so there’s no reason not to take advantage of SCORE volunteers’ expertise and experience in all aspects of starting and running a business. Contact us today.

 

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Find Your Business Mentor

Whether you are starting or growing a business, it pays to have a mentor on your side. What is a real business mentor? Someone with more experience than you…someone who offers not only knowledge and support, but also perspective and insight. A mentor should be a savvy business veteran who can help you navigate business challenges. Mentors do plenty of cheerleading, but their real value is in the objective, unvarnished advice they provide…they often tell you what you need to hear about your business (not necessarily what you want to hear). Let’s be clear, mentors aren’t parents, friends or even supportive investors…they need to be much more objective than that.

The benefits of a mentoring relationship are compelling:   revelant perspective and advice, skill improvement, networking contacts and encouragement.     Here’s how to find the right mentor for you:

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Find Your Mentor

Do you  know that mentorship is the single most important external factor for business success?  Every small business would benefit from having a trusted mentor.  The role of a mentor is to offer knowledge, support, and perspective.  Rule of engagement: the mentor has a sincere desire to help,  and the mentee has a strong desire to learn.  The best relationships are based on mutual respect. The killer benefits of a mentoring relationship: relevant perspective and advice, skill improvement, networking contacts, and encouragement.  When your family and friends are tired of hearing about your business, it may be time to enlist a mentor.  Ready to take the first steps?

Begin by clarifying  your objectives for mentoring.  What guidance are you seeking?  Help with specific operational issues?  Hiring your first employee? Support and encouragement?  It is key to be clear what sort of help matters most to you.   Write down your issues and prioritize their importance to you.  This list becomes the starting point of your first discussion.

Gauge the fit of the person sitting across from you.  A mentor should be someone you can relate to.  If that feels like an obstacle at the first meeting, it probably will not improve over time.

Explore the skills and experience of the mentor.  Most mentors have a general business knowledge.  If you are seeking help with social marketing, it is critical that the mentor have the functional experience you are seeking.

Keep an open mind.  The mentor should offer perspective based on experience.  The analysis of the situation may result in advice that offers a different approach to solving the problem.  Be open to new ways of thinking.

Are you seeking a long term mentoring relationship?  If so, fear not and ask!  Review meeting frequency, and time allotted for the discussion. Jointly set expectations for each face to face conversation.

A final thought before you start.  You should never have to pay a mentor.  If someone is asking to paid, they are a business consultant, and that relationship is a commercial one.   A mentor’s motivation is an open and honest desire to help.  What are you waiting for?

A great place to start is SCORE,  and find a mentor for the life of your business!