Is there someone you rely on for guidance as you grow your spa or massage practice?  This individual may or may not be in the personal care or health business but has the experience in business to provide you with dependable, trustworthy advice to help you move ahead and deal with the challenges you are bound to face.  Such a person – a mentor – can actually be a game changer for small business owners, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). In “Why a Mentor is Key to Small Business Growth and Survival,” the SBA notes research indicates that small businesses that receive three or more hours of mentoring achieve higher revenues and increase growth. 

Even when the day-to-day operations of hiring and managing your team, dealing with suppliers, handling clients,  marketing and more are under control, a new challenge may arise. The demographics of your community may shift or a new type of massage or spa service may become popular. In response, you may need to change direction or expand. As an example, you may want to add new services such as sports massage to add more male clients or look into a partnership with a chiropractor or physical therapist to build your clientele. A mentor can provide an objective perspective and help you evaluate all the options and potential risks and opportunities you face.

Find the right mentor

A mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be someone you know well. They may be someone in a business organization you belong to or part of an online group.  Here are considerations for seeking out a mentor.

Good listener: A mentor should be a good listener and not someone who just wants to share their opinion or tell you about their experiences. A good mentor should get to know you and your hopes and expectations.

Honest: You don’t want a mentor who always agrees with you. Your mentor should be open and direct with you, especially when they think you may be making the wrong decision.

Different from you: While you want your mentor to share your values, you don’t necessarily want a mentor who is just like you. Someone who is strong in areas you may consider yourself weak can help bolster parts of your personality. An outgoing person might help you overcome shyness and encourage you to make new business connections. Someone who is more analytical can help you think through decisions rather than make impulsive ones.

Generous: A mentor should be on your side. They should want you to succeed and be glad to open doors to new business, introduce you to new contacts and help you find necessary resources to grow. Your mentor should always be there to boost your spirits and build your confidence.  

Respectful: A good mentor isn’t just there to tell you about their ideas. You want them to get to know you and respect what you value and not push you in a direction that makes you uncomfortable.

Available: ideally your mentor is someone who is available and will make time for you when you need them. While you may want to set up regular meetings, there will be times when you need to talk to your mentor outside regularly scheduled calls or times.

When you find someone you would like for a mentor, first try to build a relationship where you get to know each other. You might want to ask someone if you can meet for coffee or lunch to discuss some questions you have about growing your business. After a few more informal meetings during which time you’ve established a rapport, you’ll be in a better position to ask someone if they would serve as your mentor or advisor.