No business owner should go it alone

By Sandra Taylor-Sawyer: Guest columnist

A business owner should be surrounded by people and mentors who can provide sound guidance, direction and encouragement on a consistent or as-needed basis.

Lenders, accountants, insurance agents, vendors, business advisors and individuals knowledgeable in the industry can be the safety net for the business owner. These professionals are better known as the business owners’ team or advisory board.

Steven S. Little wrote in his book, “The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth,” having an advisory board can help a business owner stay focused.

At the Small Business Development Center at Clovis Community College, we have an advisory council. More than 50 percent of the members are business owners.

The business owner can meet annually with his or her advisory board to discuss business goals and available resources, review previous performance as it relates to future opportunities and other important topics. Between meetings, it is wise to communicate with members of the advisory board by sending e-mails and letters, and making phone calls concerning business-related issues, the good and the bad.

Another support tool for the business owner is a mentor. A mentor can be an individual who the business owner meets with one on one, three to four times a year.

In “Taking Care of Business: Create a Mentoring Culture,” published in Rotarian Magazine, Matt Villano advises that meetings with a mentor should be planned. They are not just a “get-together.”

A good mentor relationship must provide benefits to the mentor and business owner, without a financial obligation. The mentee must be able to request advice and ask questions of the mentor. During meetings the discussion should include personal and business-related issues. However, it is important to establish ground rules before beginning any mentorship relationship.

A business owner can experience loneliness at times. There are organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and trade associations that can revert the sense of loneliness.

Sandra Taylor-Sawyer is director of the Small Business Development Center at Clovis Community College. Call the center at 769-4136 or visit www.nmsbdc.org/clovis.