Entrepreneurship is at the heart of every role Jennifer Nickerson has played, from operating her grandmother’s local pub to running her own small business. So when the opportunity arose to support small business owners as a Program Coordinator at The Business Centre Nipissing Parry Sound, it was a natural fit.
Jennifer is now Manager of The Business Centre Nipissing Parry Sound. The small business centre located in North Bay, Ontario provides local young entrepreneurs with access to small business tools and resources, like Futurpreneur as a potential funding source. It’s through this that Jennifer joined Futurpreneur’s network of mentors, providing guidance and support to young entrepreneurs like Bailey Puddister of Futurpreneur-supported Elliot + Olivia Bridal Boutique (read her spotlight here).
With years of experience and expertise, Jennifer shares her key tips and lessons for getting the most out of your mentoring relationship and building success for your small business. Read her tips below.
Do your research and know the basics of business. Take the time and make the effort to learn the details about all the logistical requirements that comes with running a business. This includes everything from business banking, insurance and licensing to business structure, basic bookkeeping.
Look for local resources that will help you plan and prepare. This can be a small business centre, the local Chamber of Commerce or local business owners willing to share their insights and provide advice.
Take every opportunity to let people know about your business, from your neighbour to your hairdresser. You may only have a few seconds to make an impression so it helps to practise whenever you can. Have a variety of versions in your back pocket!
Surround yourself with support. Find out what local business resources are available in your neighbourhood. You will be surprised how many free services and support is out there. Everything from small business centres to employment and economic development services can provide you with the information you need, or at least point you in the right direction.
There is also an increasing number of organizations being formed specifically for women entrepreneurs to come together for support, information, networking and collaboration. These are great opportunities for like-minded entrepreneurs to share and address the challenges and hurdles they are facing, and provides exposure to a larger customer base.
I feel that mentorship is a key component to building stronger communities. Mentors provide the support and guidance to help an entrepreneur succeed and can also make some important connections that may have a positive impact on your business. When a mentor is genuinely in the relationship to help nurture an entrepreneur, it will be a positive and successful relationship.
I have been fortunate to be working with a very focused, driven entrepreneur who understands the value of a mentor. She always comes prepared and reaches out to me for meetings. When she made her first sale I was one of the first people she contacted, and it was definitely a “proud mom” moment for me.
The energy and enthusiasm my mentee has for her business is contagious and it gives me hope for the other young entrepreneurs out there.
As mentors we must keep in mind that this is our mentee’s business journey, and we are constantly mindful not to interject our personal opinions. But as the mentee – the entrepreneur – you also have to have the drive and dedication to use your mentor’s guidance and support to find your way.
Find out more about mentoring in our Resource Library here