Micro Businesses often do not have the resources at their disposal to research the market, promote themselves, create a brand, or develop an image. Consequently those who are proving to be successful have become the masters of networking, negotiating and sourcing mentors. The use of these innovative techniques is enabling them to gain market share.
This method of developing a business is much more cost effective, and cost efficient, however it can be time consuming. The perceived disadvantage is that it is a long term investment and that instant results can be few and far between. However a further benefit is that while developing their network they are also developing strong business relationships.
The Micro business sector faces many problems that are not easily overcome, but finding a mentor and networking for profit are two areas they can do very well. Mentoring and networking cannot be easily separated. We all do both, often without knowing it. By being more proactive and formalising the procedure, the results can be phenomenal.
Networking and Mentoring
Everyone has their own personal network of contacts;
Everyone has their own personal experiences in business;
Everyone has their own personal achievements in business;
Everyone has their own personal problems in business;
Everyone has their own personal way of coping with business.
BIG BUSINESS DEVELOPS AND UTILISES THE DOMINO EFFECT TO GET AHEAD IN BUSINESS!!
The knowledge and contacts gained are:
Mentoring is greatly underestimated as a method to successfully train by example. When a mentoring programme becomes a formal structure, with written agreements in place, and it is monitored to enable results to be measured and quantified, the outcome can be quite unbelievable.
Mentoring Programme Examples
Micro Business Network MENTORS FOR MICROS Pilot Programme Results
Kay Sawatsky: "My marketing skills improved, and the financial assistance was great. I now feel I want to go from a team situation to a one-on-one"
Mierelle Ross: "My bookkeeping skills were so poor, but my mentor started with the basics, and I now know what I have to do"
Marie Craig: "The most positive thing that happened to me, was a negative. I was devastated when my mentor pointed out that I had no credibility in the area of my business. But he was right. Now I am being shown what to do to achieve it."
Stuart Yates: "My mentor was great, but I did not use him well enough. Previously I was paying hundreds of dollars for a mentor, without as good a result."
Mark Scatchard: "My mentor has highlighted basic things for me to do to improve the promotion of my business - and it works"
The NSW State and Regional Development Department conducted a Women in Business mentor programme. The results of the 6 month pilot programme were nothing short of astounding:
Types of Programmes Available
MENTOR PARTNER PROGRAMME WESTERN AUSTRALIA
WHAT IS MENTORING?
There are many definitions usually describing a similar process. Gordon Shea in Mentoring - A Practical Guide (1992) states:-
"Mentors are helpers. Their style ranges from that of a persistent encourager who helps us build self-confidence, to that of a stern taskmaster who teaches us to appreciate excellence in performance. Whatever their style, they care about us and what we are trying to do".
Mentoring is acknowledged as one of the broadest methods of encouraging human development. Anne Rolfe-Flett (1998) suggests that "Mentoring is often a relationship between a senior and junior person, where one is the mentor (giver) and the other the mentee (receiver). [This] traditional model has much in common with the master-apprentice roles of the past".
Another common form of mentoring is a learning partnership between peers where seniority is often ignored. Thus the peer mentor relationship is primarily established for the mutual benefits of information sharing, performance feedback and collaborative strategising. In the traditional model a lot more expertise may be offered whereas in the peer model a lot more cooperative support may be developed. The designation of either mentoring model depends on the developmental needs of participating partners.
It is important that both mentors and partners understand that the objective of mentoring is not to expect the mentor or the method to provide definitive answers to problems. Furthermore, the mentor is not there to take over the running of the partner's business. Rather a mentor's role it is to guide rather than instruct the learning of the partner.
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF THE MENTOR?
A mentor is someone who is willing to share wisdom and offer guidance. The selection of an eligible mentor is not based on age, gender or status. The selection of a mentor is primarily based on experience and business knowledge.
The mentor's job is to listen, provide constructive feedback, refer the partner to appropriate resources, support the expansion of the partner's professional network and enhance the partners learning in such a way that the partner has responsibility for their own decision making.
Confidentiality is an important consideration for all participants. A mentor must agree to respect and maintain confidentiality, particularly in respect to the financial and management practices of the partner's enterprise.
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF THE PARTNER?
Terms, other than partner which are often used, are; protege, mentoree, mentee, peer learner, learning group member, participant, client.
The partner's job is to be honest, offer the mentor access to the business operation and open up the 'big' picture so that deficiencies may be identified. The partner can then be guided to develop appropriate action strategies, which will assist with business growth. The partner should not withhold information for fear that the mentor will steal ideas or be unjustly critical. The partner should be willing to listen to suggestions, ideas and constructive feedback. The partner should be able to weigh all information and arrive at considered decisions. The partner must be willing to make changes that will enhance business operations and improve profitability. The partner should complete agreed actions between meetings.
The following attributes are sought from both Mentors and Partners: