80% of entrepreneurs with a mentor are still in business after a year. With 30% of small businesses failing within the first two years, having access to the right resources and advice is critical. A study by SCORE showed just how big a game-changer mentors can be.
Small businesses (less than 100 paid employees) account for 99.9% of all U.S. businesses and 97.9% of all Canadian businesses, with micro-businesses (less than 10 employees) accounting for 75.3% of private-sector employers. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and our economy, and with the current economic crisis, they’re fighting for their lives.
Since the declaration of national emergency was issued because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated total private employment to have fallen by 19.6 million between March and April alone, a historic decline.
Now more than ever, having access to a mentor can be a critical lifeline for a small business. But at a time when resources are so tight, how can you find someone to help you navigate the unique challenges of your industry, guide you through crisis management and assist your creation of a business continuity plan that helps you and your employees not only survive but thrive?
This is part one of a five-part series designed to help you access the mentors that are exactly right for your small business without spending a dime. The series will help you discover and tap into:
- global mentor resources on LinkedIn;
- federal government programs connecting small businesses to mentors;
- NGO and collaborative business mentoring resources;
- mentoring services supporting minority small business owners; and,
- mentoring services supporting women small business owners.
In this first installment, we’ll explore some of the best resources on LinkedIn.
Here are 5 simple ways to use LinkedIn to access exactly the right mentors to help grow your small business without spending a dime.
LinkedIn reported that more than 80% of LinkedIn members want to have a mentor or be one to others, but have a hard time knowing where to start, prompting them to launch their “Career Advice” program at the end of 2017. They invited people to offer their services as mentors and made it easier for those looking for help to find them by industry, location and level of expertise. (You can see a brief video showing how it works here.) While the portal is currently unavailable as it goes through a revamp, there are still a couple other valuable ways to use LinkedIn to access mentors, including:
- Simply tap the + symbol on the bottom of the app as if you were about to start a post, and
- you'll see "Find an Expert" near the bottom of the menu that pops up.
- Click the "Ask Your Network" button that appears, then
- select a category for the type of help you're looking for.
This portal is a quick way to tap into a multitude of mentors across every field and business challenge, 15-minutes at a time. It gives you instant access to the wisdom of the top leaders in each field, on-demand, in bite-sized formats that let you tap into exactly what you need, even when you don’t have much time.
- With over 16,000 courses from LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com by industry experts, and 60 new courses being added every week in 7 languages based on skills and jobs data to identify emerging trends, this is a terrific way to get the help your small business needs exactly when you need it.
- LinkedIn Learning also helps you quickly drill down to the things that matter most to you, offering insights-based recommendations based on each learner profile and 675+ million member profiles.
- You can also see the courses that your LinkedIn contacts have found most helpful.
- You might want to download the LinkedIn Learning app to take your courses with you on mobile.
While LinkedIn members with paid accounts have access to this content at no additional charge, LinkedIn is offering access to a number of courses, free of charge, through their Course Club, to help businesses navigate the challenges of the pandemic. It's a great way to tap into mentors with the resources and expertise to help get your small business through some of the rougher parts of the overnight changes we're all experiencing. The current courses focus on navigating the new normal of remote work, featuring tips from remote work experts to help with:
- Maximizing efficiency and productivity
- Managing the impact of adjusting to your new work environment
- Remotely managing and leading teams
These are professional forums that help you connect with people in your industry and in the area of business that you are looking for help. Ask for guidance where you need it and also offer it where you can. There are groups that curate resources and advice on everything from marketing to operational and financial management. Many are currently focusing on the challenges of business continuity and crisis management to help small businesses navigate the pandemic.
- One of the first groups you'll want to tap into if you own a small business in the U.S. is the SCORE Mentors group. (We'll go into more detail on the power of SCORE in our next post.)
- SCORE is also launching a Real Time Mentoring platform to help business owners navigate the COVID-19 crisis. It's open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2–5pm ET. You can register for free.
When it comes to running a small business, crowdsourcing the wisdom of giants through FREE trusted management consultant resource hubs could be one of the best ways to grow your "team" without adding to your budget.
How do you build resilience during a pandemic, and what do you do next? Whether your looking for guidance on crisis management, transforming to a remote workplace, business continuity or pivot strategies, it can be hard to filter through the flood of resources and conversations happening, so it's handy to have a handful of the best on digital speed-dial.
Many of the top consulting firms share daily content on LinkedIn from their comprehensive resource centres, making it a quick central dashboard to tap into new insights in one place.
Check out our blog 5 Management Consultants small businesses should follow on LinkedIn where we share 5 of the top management consultants you should be following to grow your small business. We've included links to their own sites as well so you can do a deeper dive into their libraries. The post is chocked full of free resources, including small business mentoring from some of the top firms globally.
On deck ...
In the next installment, we’ll take a look at some of the federal government programs that match you with the best mentors to help grow your small business and tap into hyper-personalized, regional and national resources.
After that, we'll explore:
Looking for more small business help?
Small businesses have to adapt quickly as they learn to navigate the challenges of the economic crisis created by the pandemic. That means wading through a sea of noise to find the best crisis management and business continuity resources, implement work from home strategies, tap into emergency funding and be champions for employees when faced with the hard decision to cut back staff.
Chances are you're already using LinkedIn to help with some of those things, but you might not have thought about "hashtags" as "discovery channels" to help you quickly tune into real-time lifelines.
Here's how small businesses can use LinkedIn to tune in to crisis management and work continuity resources with just a click ...
With a drastically changed economy, many businesses are finding the need to pivot to embrace new products and services quickly. Being agile means survival.
There are a handful of simple, FREE tools that will help you understand the opportunities emerging within your market in real-time. It’s like having a team of virtual assistants whose job is to gather market insights and competitive intelligence and drop them on your doorstep, allowing you to find the right resources and ideas to adapt quickly.
The differentiation strategy that helps you not only survive but thrive is only a click away!
Here are 5 FREE tools that make it easy to find what you need to quickly pivot your small business ...