Do you have a business mentor or role model you look up to? One who can inspire, advise and encourage you? If you’re a woman business owner, the answer is probably “No.” According to the 2014 EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women Impact Study, most women business owners say they lack positive female entrepreneurial role models. What’s more, 60 percent lack advisory boards that can guide them in growing their businesses.
EY has found through its Entrepreneurial Winning Women program that access to business mentors and role models makes a real difference in women business owners’ success. After completing the program, 70 percent of women said they had begun setting bigger goals and thinking bigger, while 88 percent say their self-confidence in their leadership had improved.
Although the EY experience shows that even already successful businesswomen can benefit from mentorship and advice, studies have shown that women entrepreneurs typically have networks that are much smaller than those of male entrepreneurs. Women business owners also are less likely than men to use advisors, mentors and role models to help them run better businesses.
Where can you find mentors and role models? Here are five ideas:
- Reach out to other successful women in your industry. Read industry blogs, publications and social media feeds to keep up with female thought leaders. Comment on their posts or articles; once you’ve built up an online relationship, contact them offline see if they are willing to offer advice. Keep it quick—a 10- or 15-minute chat can provide a lot of information, but that’s a lot of time for a busy entrepreneur to spare. (Speaking as a woman who’s mentored many, talking by phone or Skyping is lots faster than meeting in person if your chosen mentor has a super-hectic schedule.)
- Work your network. Join not only industry networking groups, but also groups specific to women in your city, industry or niche (such as African-American women). You will find like-minded women who can be business mentors.
- Take the lead. Don’t just join organizations or attend conferences—take a leadership role by chairing committees or moderating panels. By doing so, you’ll rub shoulders with movers and shakers who can become mentors or advisors.
- Join a formal mentoring program. SCORE is a great organization that provides free mentoring from experienced business owners to entrepreneurs at all stages of business. They are reaching out to women and have a growing number of female mentors. Visit www.score.org for more information.
- Connect with the community. Peers are just as important as mentors because they provide emotional support, according to the EY study. Why not check out the Web.com Small Business Forum to find other women business owners who can share insights and advice?
(Disclosure: SCORE is a client of my company.)
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.