One of the best programs for businesses in the United States is called SCORE – Service Corps of Retired Executives, an extension of the Small Business Administration. It has a volunteer base of over 11,000 volunteers including mentors across 62 industries. The focus here is developing your own CORE to help you develop your business regardless of where you are. I would not be exaggerating to say that the CORE concept can have a major impact on your career and business.
Core means heart and corps means group of people devoted to something. To take a little liberty with the idea, we can call this your Corps of Real Experts. They don’t have to be retired, just very good at what they do and willing to help you. They can be friends, college alumni, associates from any number of fraternal organizations or sororities. Finding your CORE gets back to old fashioned social networking, the way it used to be without the Internet, or even phones.
There are special advantages in developing relationships with the retired and nearly retired, as mentors. They have years of experience, a broader operational picture, industry contacts, likely won’t need to be put on the payroll and probably have free time to spare. While retired people may not be helpful on the technical aspects of coding mobile apps, they may know a thing or two about marketing, business development, finances, how to form strategic partnerships, etc.
Warren Buffet had a mentor (Benjamin Graham), Bill Gates had a mentor, too (Warren Buffett). Steve Jobs had a mentor (Robert Friedland). Not in the same league, but Dick Cheney had Ronald Rumsfeld. The list could go on and on. Having a good mentor, not simply someone who knows your job, but who understands business increases your chances for success immeasurably – whether for your career or your company.
Similarly, having friends who are specialists – accounting, graphics design, marketing, etc. only add to the package. From time to time, they may turn to you for your programming or technical hardware skills. This is the sharing of skills, experience and contacts – because of ONE MAXIM — The Best Way to Get to Where YOU Want to Be is by Helping OTHERS get to Where They Want to Be. That goes for customers, for employees, for employers and for everyone else, too.
The logic and cause effect components of the process are acute.
But how – how do you find people like this to help you? There are a few ways…
1. Immersion. Jump into your market with the intention of knowing everything and everyone. You actively publish about the market, try to meet with people, supporting their efforts where possible. In the process of meeting with different people, you let it be known that you are looking for a mentor.
2. Join business clubs, participate in Chamber of Commerce events, fraternal organizations, or all three. Each gets you into personal contact with other like-minded people and business professionals.
3. For more alternative pursuits, you might consider non-profit organizations, college professors, think tanks, journalists and embassies.
It can take a while to find the right people, so consistency is important. In the past, much of the mentoring process was handled through apprenticeships. A young person learning a trade would work under the direct supervision of a “master”. The same, but much looser idea is inherent within a mentoring relationship.
I know this swings wide from the matter of mobile app development and advertising; but this matter stands as the #1 piece of advise I would have for any entrepreneur, ambitious solo developer, business owner – large or small. Yet, it remains one topic that I see very rarely written about, especially in consideration for simply how powerful a Mentor or CORE can be – for a career, for a business.
Questions are welcome!