Going into business for yourself is like building a house. Even when you think you know what you’re doing, unexpected surprises can pop up and throw you for a loop. When you’re trying to get a business off the ground, enlisting the aid of a business mentor can help ensure that instead of being surprised, you’re prepared to meet potential problems. Typically, a business mentor is someone who has successfully launched and operated a business similar to yours and is willing to share his or her knowledge and experience to help you succeed in launching your business.

When you’re looking for a business mentor, it is not necessary to find someone who has operated exactly the same type of business that you are launching. What you want is someone who has been successful in the same area of business. For example, if you plan to work as a consultant or freelancer on Zoondy, solicit advice from successful consultants or freelancers. If you want to open a retail store, look for a mentor with proven retail experience. If you’re planning to produce a product, you may need different mentors for different aspects of your business. You may need one with manufacturing experience to help you with production issues; another with fulfillment and distribution expertise; and, when you start hiring employees, yet another with human relations or labor experience.

Where can you find mentors?

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers services to help small businesses get started, but government paperwork and red tape can be a drawback. Many states also offer small business assistance, as do many local governments. If you’re going to seek government assistance, you’ll usually get the fastest response from local organizations. Start locally and work your way up to the feds if you need to.

Check for local business development groups and professional organizations. Many support active mentoring programs staffed by local business people. Do a little research and pinpoint recently retired local executives who may be willing to share their expertise, and solicit recommendations from other business owners.

For more helpful business tips, check The Zoondy Daily.