“A business mentor is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” — John Crosby

The opportunity to learn from a mentor can do more for a small business owner than any course, educational program or degree. Being a mentee means you get the benefit of first-hand experience without having to make all the mistakes yourself.

There are a host of reasons why a well-matched mentor is an invaluable asset for an entrepreneur. You’ll have someone you can trust and confide in, lean on for advice, bounce new ideas off and get help refining your business plans.

The first step to seeking out a mentor is to know the kind of guidance you and your business would most benefit from.

For business owners in the early start-up stage, someone who can provide advice for surviving the first few years—and someone you can touch base with more often—may be the perfect fit.

Finding a mentor with experience in your industry is a plus, but not absolutely necessary. If you’re in a highly specialised field, running a business in a niche market, or if you’re at the point where you’re ready to scale, you’ll want to narrow your search to a more selective pool of mentors with pertinent experience.

Start your search for a mentor in your current network. Think about who you know through your previous jobs, educational history, professional associations, and the local business community. Your social media networks can be a great place to find a mentor too. Be sure to get the word out via your LinkedIn groups, Twitter and Facebook. You never know who might be out there, just on the periphery of your social network, by one or two degrees of separation. Another option is to search for organisations in your area such as Australia’s International Business Mentors who help match business owners with trained mentors.