Quite a few entrepreneurs have asked Fundastic how they can find a business mentor to help them through the journey of creating a successful company. The answer is surprisingly simple! The SBA (Small Business Administration) actually sponsors quite a few organizations to help mentor business owners. The following two organizations are the most accessible business mentoring programs around the country and they are completely free.
SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) is a non-profit volunteer organization that offers business workshops and free counseling services for business owners. SCORE has 390 local chapters around the United States. Chances are that you're going to find a local chapter near you. The counselors are mostly retired local business owners or executives who volunteer their time to give back to the community. I have personally attended a mentoring session there. It helped clarify our vision for Fundastic and helped us decide what to focus on at the current stage. You can make an appointment online and talk to a mentor in person in about a week. After that, you can ask questions through email or schedule follow-up in-person meetings. If a mentor can't answer your particular questions, they will relay the questions to their volunteer expert network and connect you to the right experts. I highly recommend SCORE's free business counseling.
SBDCs Approximately 900 Small Business Development Center sites are co-located at community colleges, state universities, SBA district offices, and/or other entrepreneurial hubs around the country. You can find the development centers near you through the SBDC network website. Like SCORE, they offer very similar counseling services for business owners for free. The counselors can be paid staff or volunteers. The SBDCs are non-profit organizations aiming to help business owners at any stage of the business. Like SCORE, you can often make an appointment online and do follow-up email counseling.
These counseling services will be especially helpful for people who are first time entrepreneurs or anyone who needs specific assistance for their business, such as obtaining business licenses, figuring out accounting and tax, writing a business plan, marketing on social media, applying for a bank loan, etc.
I was a software engineer at Facebook. I know how to write software and I know social media marketing, but I was fairly clueless about accounting, business tax and budgeting. I personally benefitted quite a lot from the classes, online resources and counseling from SCORE. I highly recommend entrepreneurs to look beyond their existing networks for business mentors and reach out to the local SBDCs or SCORE chapters to accelerate their learning as business owners.