Whether you’re in the early stages of exploring a business idea, or already running an established business in Stapleton, New Dorp, Grasmere, Prince’s Bay, or elsewhere in the borough – a SCORE Staten Island business mentor can provide valuable guidance.
“Your mentor can serve as an objective sounding board for listening to and evaluating new ideas, and motivate you to be more accountable,” said John Amodio of SCORE Staten Island.
Amodio and his Island team are among the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, with more than 10,000 volunteers in 300 SCORE chapters.
As a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE has helped more than 10 million entrepreneurs across the nation through mentoring, workshops and educational resources since 1964. “With a Staten Island SCORE mentor, you benefit locally from expertise and experience that can help you launch and/or grow your business,” Amodio explained. “And importantly, the valuable guidance you receive is free.”
But before you begin working with a mentor, Amodio suggests you consider what you can do to get the most fulfillment from your mentor/mentee relationship.
With your success in mind, Amodio advises:
DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS
Come prepared with a list of questions and issues you’re facing to every meeting with your SCORE mentor. Mentors are there to answer even what seem to be the silliest questions. They don’t judge you by what you know or don’t know.
They are there to develop your understanding and awareness. And if they don’t know the answer to a particular question, they can tap into the expertise of other SCORE mentors within the Island chapter or nationally.
FOCUS ON BUSINESS MATTERS
When you talk with your mentor, be entirely present and ready to focus on your business issues. Unless you need them for research during your meeting, put your digital devices away so they won't distract you from your conversation.
HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Your mentor is there to advise you, not to do the work for you. You will gain insight and direction from a mentor, but you will still have to work hard. Starting and running a small business requires effort — no exceptions.
Do your homework! You should walk away from every meeting with your mentor with next steps (a.k.a. action items). Make sure you tackle what you agreed to do between meetings. If you slack off and don’t take the initiative to complete the tasks necessary to move forward, you won’t be able to take full advantage of your time together.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
You and your mentor may not always see eye to eye on certain ideas or approaches. Rather than instantly discarding suggestions that don't align with your initial thoughts, consider your mentor’s frame of reference and experience in working with other SCORE mentees who faced similar challenges. The right answer may not always be what you want to hear, so it’s important to listen with an objective ear.
KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN
When first starting your business, you will probably find you need to meet with your mentor on a relatively frequent basis (possibly every week). As time goes by, your need to consult your mentor may ebb and flow depending on the nature of the competition you’re facing, industry changes, or opportunities you want to pursue.
“Even when you don’t feel you need to meet very often, keep your mentor up to date on what’s happening in your business via email or a periodic phone call,” Amodio advises. “That way, your mentor will be informed and better equipped to provide guidance when you do face a new challenge.”
To find a Staten Island SCORE mentor who has expertise in the specific aspects of the small business you need help with, email info@SCORESI.org, or call 718-727-1221.
About SCORE Staten Island
SCORE Staten Island is dedicated to fostering a vibrant small-business community within its borough by providing cost-free mentoring and education to both aspiring and established entrepreneurs. Headquartered at 950 West Fingerboard Road., Grasmere, in the iconic Staten Island Advance Building, the organization is Chapter 476 of the nationwide SCORE, a nonprofit association and resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). For additional information, or to schedule an appointment, SCORE Staten Island may be visited at https://statenisland.score.org; telephoned at 718-727-1221; emailed at info@SCORESI.org, and visited on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SCOREofStatenIsland.