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Meet Your Mentor

A new online matchmaker offers to connect small-business owners with volunteer advisors.

Need a mentor? Want to be a mentor? MicroMentor.org is a free online service that connects small-business owners with volunteer business mentors run by Mercy Corps, a nonprofit humanitarian agency.

To find a mentor, go to the website, create a brief profile and a specific mentoring request. The request is then listed in the mentoring opportunity database, where volunteer mentors can offer to help (you can also request help from specific mentors). The site has more than 3,500 entrepreneurs and 2,600 business mentors enrolled, and it has made more than 2,250 matches. It also offers advice and information on mentoring relationships and how to make them most effective, as well as a number of success stories.

Volunteer mentors can also sign up on the website--and there are dividends. MicroMentor reports that participating businesses had a 75 percent increase in median annual business sales and an 87 percent survival rate year over year.

"This is a way for small-business owners to get meaningful advice," says Andrea Long, spokeswoman for MicroMentor.org. "And because you can have more than one mentor, you can create a virtual advisory board. That gives small-business owners the tools they need for success."

Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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This article was originally published in the December 2010 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Meet Your Mentor.

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