Finance mentors have the kind of hands-on financial experience that many business owners lack, making them a critical resource for navigating areas like managing cash flow, analyzing financial reports, setting a budget, determining tax burden, and more.
A finance mentor can also help in the following broader areas:
The challenge is to find a mentor that is qualified to address your specific needs and provide ongoing guidance to help you grow professionally and personally.
"The key to being a good mentor is to help people become more of who they already are — not to make them more like you." - Suze Orman
Knowing where to look is often the key to discovering the right individual to walk alongside your business journey.
1. Use SCORE
SCORE pairs business owners seeking mentors with local volunteers nationwide across many different industries. Mentors can be filtered by goal to find someone who has experience in a specific area (such as buying and selling businesses, financing, or tax planning) to further refine a search.
2. Visit SBA
The U.S. Small Business Administration has a tool to help business owners find local resources. Business counselors and counseling centers can be filtered by specialties like women-run or veteran-run businesses as well to discover even more specialized services. These resources provide not only mentoring, but other types of support for business professionals around areas such as growth, exporting, and procurement.
3. Utilize Professional Associations
Local business associations are a great place to find mentors because they are comprised of professionals in your area. These associations typically have regular networking events and mixers where you can meet other members and introduce yourself personally to try to find someone who will be a good fit socially.
Industry-specific associations are another place to look for a mentor. Searching within your own industry has the benefit of connecting with someone who is already intimately familiar with your challenges. While it may be slightly more difficult to find a finance mentor specifically within your own industry, asking can uncover additional connections.
Lastly, associations through your alma mater can connect you with other professionals that share some of your same passions. Many colleges and universities have professional associations for women in business and other specific groups to connect like-minded individuals and provide professional support.
4. Search LinkedIn
Searching existing connections on LinkedIn is an easy way to find a possible mentor. Focus on connections that have a strong financial background and exhibit a willingness to help others. Volunteering experience or past educational roles are a key indicator that someone is willing to invest time in mentorship. If a promising connection is a second- or third-degree connection, you can ask the person or people connecting you two to introduce you.
Former bosses are another group to prospect on LinkedIn for a mentor (provided you left the company on good terms) because you already have a good working relationship with them. Furthermore, you can trust their leadership and decision-making capabilities, which provides a solid foundation for the mentoring relationship.
As a last resort, you can conduct an advanced search to find someone locally that meets your criteria for a finance mentor and reach out with a cold request.
5. Mine your Personal Networks
It may surprise you to learn that the best business mentor for you is someone you already know personally. The people already in your social networks from church, your child’s school, the gym, a business you frequent, your fantasy sports league, or any other area of interest make up a vast network of contacts that can lend valuable experience. Let these networks as well as friends and family know that you are looking for a mentor and be open to any possibilities that arise. Sometimes the right mentor can emerge from a different walk of life simply because he/she can provide a unique and impartial perspective.
"Stop the 'will you be my mentor?' emails and start being present to embrace the learning opportunities all around you. Ask your colleagues and executive team members for their points of view. Seek advice from your direct leader or leader once removed. Start having conversations and soaking in the mentorship moments." - Robert Herjavec
6. Leverage Local Universities
A local college or university is a cornucopia of diverse experience that can be utilized to find a mentor. Business professors often possess substantial real-world experience and clearly have a predilection for educating others, which makes them an obvious choice. However, they are not the only available option. Master’s degree students typically have a high degree of experience with new technologies and methodologies due to coursework requirements. While it may be unconventional to enlist the mentorship of someone that is younger than you, this type of recent knowledge can be highly beneficial for older entrepreneurs and business owners who are many years removed from their formal educational instruction.
7. Hire a Professional
The most often overlooked source for finance and accounting mentors is a professional mentoring service. While some people prefer not to pay for a mentor, hiring a professional ensures that he/she will have the ongoing time availability needed to maintain the relationship instead of letting it dissolve during busy seasons or life stages.
Additionally, professionals are generally more qualified simply because they do it more often than the average volunteer mentor, so they have more experience to draw on when advising others. Furthermore, a professional mentor is usually required to maintain confidentiality as part of the agreement, which is a bonus for all business owners.
Contact us here if you need a finance or accounting mentor. We have over 60 professionals in Washington and Oregon with decades of experience in many industries. CFO Selections has a large team of CFOs who have served over 1,000 companies and also an excellent resource.
“There are great free mentors out there, but I opted for paid mentorship because it’s much more results-driven. It’s a client-business relationship. Incentives are aligned for both parties since it’s more monetarily driven. There’s also a higher expectation on the client’s end for tangible outcomes and an actionable [step] by step process.” - Timothy Kim
A finance and accounting mentor for your small business, especially one that you hire, is someone who will give you the unfiltered, unbiased advice you need most. A finance and accounting mentor is someone who has the experience, or expertise, or skills that you may wish to acquire. Whatever it is you're looking to do, there's someone out there who can offer advice to you directly.
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