You Need a Mentor. Here's Where to Find One for Free Mentors have a crucial asset new business owners lack -- experience.

By Jared Hecht

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

izusek | Getty Images

Every year in the United States, an average of 587,000 new small businesses are born. The bad news is only half survive five years. And by the time you get to 10 years, that number is cut to one-third. But, there are ways to increase your odds of survival. Working with a mentor has proven to be an indicator of success. Here are five reasons why.

1. Mentors put statistics back on your side.

The survival rate of new businesses is understandably intimidating to entrepreneurs, but those numbers can change drastically when you add a mentor to the equation. According to a survey by The UPS Store, 70 percent of mentored businesses survive more than five years. That's double the rate of businesses who choose not to have a mentor.

Related: The Secret to Finding a Great Mentor: Don't Ask to Be Mentored

New small business owners often lack one fundamental thing -- experience. It takes years upon years, and sometimes lots of money, to gain the business experience to run a successful company. Mentors give you the opportunity to draw on that experience right away -- and for free.

Running or starting a business will never play out precisely as you planned. When you hit a roadblock, small or large, mentors with business experience likely have come across something similar before and know strategies to move forward. Harvard Business Review surveyed 45 CEOs with formal mentor relationships, and 84 percent said as a result, they have avoided costly mistakes and became proficient in their roles faster. In the same study, 69 percent said mentors helped them make better decisions, and 71 percent were certain company performance improved.

2. A mentor's support and motivation can be invaluable.

It can be lonely at the top. Starting a small or medium-sized business means you don't have a boss above you that supplies employee motivation and engagement programs, which can be vital for worker happiness and success. A mentor can often fill this void, acting as a coach to provide support, motivation, validation and encouragement.

3. SMB mentors offer accountability for entrepreneurs.

A good small business mentor can help define critical tasks and guide your business goals -- and more importantly, help the company hold itself accountable for meeting them. Not only does accountability help companies meet these goals toward success, it fosters a culture of self-reliance and self-confidence.

This is where mentorship becomes a two-way street. Maintaining consistent meetings with your mentor is the only way to ensure accountability. You must put in the effort to make the relationship work.

Related: Approaching and Attracting a Potential Mentor

4. Working with a mentor widens your network.

Potential clients, employees and other sources of advice -- all these types of people, and more, can be unlocked when you have a business mentor. A mentor brings their own network of invaluable people, and those contacts could be at your disposal. Have a specific business problem? A mentor may know the right person to turn to for help. Looking for the perfect person for a new role in the company? They could also recommend a contact from their experience in the industry. Having a stacked contact list is crucial for your business in the long run.

5. Where to find a mentor.

There are several places you can look for a mentor.

  • SCORE: Partnering with the U.S. Small Business Association, SCORE is a nonprofit that helps connect small businesses with volunteer mentors of both active and retired executives and entrepreneurs across 62 industries. There are 300 chapters across the country, so you can connect with a local mentor to meet in person, or you can set up video or email relationships.

  • Local networking events: These events are designed to connect you to other business professionals. Look for conferences or networking events for both your specific industry and small businesses in general, and try to speak to as many people as you can.

  • SBDCs: Small Business Development Centers provide assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses by way of training sessions and free business consulting. Host networks for SBDCs are located all across the U.S. and its territories. Search for a location near you by using a tool on SBA.gov.

  • Women's Business Centers: The Association of Women's Business Centers sustains a network of 100 business centers across the United States, each of which supports female entrepreneurs with mentoring, as well as training, business development and finance opportunities. The AWBC also runs conferences, which can be great places to connect with potential mentors. Find a WBC near you.

  • Veterans Business Outreach Center: VBOCs provide many entrepreneurial development services, including mentorship, to veterans, transitioning service members, National Guard & Reserve members and military spouses who are starting or growing a small business. You can search for locations near you on the SBA.gov website.

  • MBDA Business Centers: As an agency with the Department of Congress, the Minority Business Development Agency works to promote the growth of minority-owned businesses, in part through business centers located across the country in areas with the highest concentration of minority populations and minority business owners.

  • Professional and trade associations: For a price, you can join a professional or trade association in your industry. Those dues go toward investments in many things, including education and networking -- usually with experienced business leaders in your industry.

  • Social media: Don't neglect your own personal network when it comes to finding a mentor. LinkedIn and Twitter can be great resources for connecting with other professionals and potential mentors.

Related: Your Next Mentor Doesn't Have to Be a 'Jedi Master'

No matter where you turn to find a mentor, connecting with the right one should be a key step in your business plan. The right mentor can guide you through tough business choices and help set you up for success for years to come.

Jared Hecht

Co-founder and CEO, Fundera

Jared is the CEO of Fundera, an online marketplace that matches small business owners to the best possible lender. Prior to Fundera, Jared co-founded GroupMe, a group messaging service that in August 2011 was acquired by Skype, which was subsequently acquired by Microsoft in October 2011. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Columbia University Entrepreneurship Organization and is an investor and advisor to startups such as Codecademy, SmartThings and TransferWise.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Thought Leaders

These Age-Old Monk Practices Can Help You Lead a More Focused, Productive and Creative Life

Buddhist and Benedictine monks have some ancient habits that every hard-working entrepreneur should know.

Business News

'These People Didn't Do Anything Wrong,' But Their Standard of Living Might Plummet in Retirement — Here's Why

Most American workers feel behind where they think they should be on their retirement savings.

Business News

'I Want a Free Month': Thousands of Customers Furious at AT&T After Widespread Outages

The carrier has not yet disclosed the root cause of the issue.

Side Hustle

He Started a Side Hustle in His Parents' Basement and Won Big on Richard Branson's TV Show. The Business Saw Over $650 Million in Annual Revenue Last Year.

Shawn Nelson, founder and CEO of furniture manufacturer Lovesac, thought it would be "funny to make a giant beanbag chair."

Business News

Want to Start a Billion-Dollar Business? Look to These Two Industries, Which Have the Most Unicorn Growth

During a tough fundraising year overall last year, the value of cybersecurity and AI unicorns saw double-digit growth.