So many businesses start with grand visions and hopes, only to miss the mark along the way. In our home state of North Carolina, 26000 businesses are started each year; but, 23000 fail each year as well. Without getting into the dynamics of how many survive for three or five years, we can at least ask the question “why?” Why do so many businesses fail each year?
Mismanagement, making mistakes others have already made, inadequate capitalization, and poor knowledge of systems and process resources are all contributors to business failure. The reason many of these mistakes are made is the lack of a sounding board for many entrepreneurs–someone to whom they can turn for ideas, resources, and encouragement. For centuries, there were very formalized apprenticeship programs in many industries that helped new workers become business people. In modern times, we use the term “mentor” to describe someone who is willing to work with an apprentice.
Management of a business is tough work. Having a mentor can make a big difference. Some of the things a mentor can offer include:
- Business strategy and planning to make sure their business is focused on a viable market with a winning product and/or service that has a competitive edge
- Forecasting and financing ensuring that sales plans are realistic and that cash is well managed
- Operational discipline and judgment to increase the chances of success by making fewer mistakes
- Industry connections that can help accelerate the business and its operations
- Start-up company experience that can instill the wisdom of what it takes to really start and manage an emerging business
Organizations like EntreDot and incubators like the Cary Innovation Center and REDii in downtown Raleigh are but a few of the many resources that smart business owners seek out. The value is in having someone on site who can walk and talk you through an issue that is new to you. The “someone” is often one who has more experience in business, but can also be a peer in these incubator environments.
Getting “stuck” on a tough issue is okay; staying in that predicament can put jobs, ideas, and investments at risk of loss. Regardless of whether you live in a community that has ready providers of mentoring or have to seek it from elsewhere, it is vitally important to your success to get help. Becoming “unstuck” makes life more enjoyable, fuels the economy, and builds better communities. Best wishes!