Lesson 6: Mentoring, networking and next steps
You’ve come a long way in developing your business idea. You now know your business idea and hopefully you’ve gained knowledge, confidence and a clear way forward. Now it's time to help it get off the ground.
This last lesson is a little different. In the past, we’ve focused on developing your business idea. Now, we’ll focus on what happens after you have a solid idea and strategy in place. You can keep coming back to this as your business grows, as the need for finding a business mentor and networking grows.
Activity 1: Find a business mentor
There are plenty of ways to find a business mentor.
Firstly, MYOB has their own network of expert advisors and mentors to help you with business insight and industry vision. Search for the best people in your area.
Firstly, MYOB has their own network of expert advisors and mentors to help you with business insight and industry vision. Search for the best people in your area:
The Australian Government business website has a quick and easy search function to reach out to advisors and experts in various fields nationwide.
Business Mentors New Zealand has a comprehensive list of guides, case studies and services to help small businesses connect with mentors and even become mentors themselves.
The Australian Business Enterprise Centre is a network designed to provide advice and information to small businesses - established and just starting out.
Activity 2: Become an expert at networking
Think of networking like a blind date: you need to give people space to talk about themselves, and also learn about you. At this point you aren’t looking for clients, so it’s not about selling your products or services, but more about showing who you are as a businessperson.
Build that genuine personal connection by asking people about what got them involved in business, if it’s their first one, how they found their first customers. Smile and show a genuine interest - smiling and asking about a person’s interests shows that you’re welcoming and willing to learn.
- Be yourself, not your business card
The last thing you want to be remembered for when meeting new people is someone who kept dealing out their business cards like they were at the poker table. It's about quality, not quantity. Be yourself and your business will naturally be a big part of that.
- Small connections are big
When you're talking to someone and they're constantly looking over your shoulder like they're waiting for someone else, it doesn't feel very good. Rather than spreading yourself too thin with several contacts, take the time to make real connections. It's better to come out of an event with one solid new contact, rather than half a dozen forgettable ones.
- Tell stories, build memories
Remember, there's nobody like you. Which means your story is already unique. So feel free to highlight the most interesting pieces of information about you and your business. Do it in a memorable way. Ask unusual questions to get unusual answers rather than something bland like "What do you do?" - then they'll remember you.
Be bold, be brave, and give the conversations time. You may not meet your mentor or potential business partner at your first event - but they're out there. Government websites in both Australia and New Zealand have up-to-date events calendars which cover seminars and workshops for all aspects of running a business.
The New Zealand Business Partner Network can connect Kiwis with all kinds of key people to build strong relationships.
Across Australia, state governments have their own focused lists of events for business owners to attend and network. For example, Business Victoria has a list of upcoming small business events.
Meetup is a community-based platform to connect like-minded people in various industries, no matter how niche. You can even start your own meetup to get things going.
Eventbrite is also a helpful resource to locate the most important events happening in your area which relate to your industry.
Congratulations! You've now completed Developing Your Business Idea.
What are the next steps?
Developing Your Business Idea was just the first of many courses MYOB will be offering to everyone thinking about starting a small business. In the near future, we'll be expanding into topics such as Creating A Business Plan, Side Hustles You Can Scale, Hiring First Employees and more. If you're interested in taking part, please let us know by replying to our last email or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.