Whether you’re the owner of a startup or have been operating a business for years, there are always skills to sharpen and new things to learn.

One way to become a more knowledgeable and adept entrepreneur is to have a trusted business mentor who you can ask for guidance and feedback. Mentors, like those available through SCORE, can help you navigate the sometimes tumultuous road to business success.

What are the advantages of having a SCORE business mentor?

1. Advice from someone who has walked the walk. With a SCORE mentor who has had experience in your particular industry and type of business, you can gain valuable insight as you approach problems and challenges. Mentors have a firm understanding of the steps involved in starting and growing a business, so they can provide direction and feedback to help you get on the right path and stay there.

2. Impartial perspective. As an entrepreneur, you will naturally feel emotionally connected to your business. This can serve to help you achieve your goals, but it could also work against you. Feelings can get in the way of recognizing weaknesses that you need to address and your ability to assess situations objectively. A SCORE mentor will bring an impartial viewpoint and third-party perspective focused on facts rather than emotions.

3. Skills development. A SCORE mentor can help you develop the skills necessary to manage your company successfully. Through a mentor’s advice and feedback, you can gain a better understanding of business financials, hone your leadership skills, increase your marketing know-how and fine-tune other essential elements related to business acumen.

4. Valuable connections. SCORE business mentors have formed strong relationships with other entrepreneurs and professionals within the local business community. Through your mentor, you will have the potential to meet prospective customers, vendors, investors, project partners and other individuals and organizations that open the door to opportunities for your company.

5. Someone in your corner. You are not alone in your business journey. When you face difficult days or disappointing downturns, a SCORE mentor can provide the encouragement you need to get through tough times. You can look to your mentor for help in seeing past the negatives and purposefully focusing on doing what’s necessary to overcome whatever adversity you face.

6. Extended access to expertise. With thousands of SCORE mentors and more than 300 local chapters across the United States, you have a vast network of small-business experts to tap into for expertise relative to your business and its challenges. Depending on your needs, you might even work with a team of mentors composed of individuals with specialized experience in different areas of business. Mentoring is available in-person, through email, via Skype or Google Hangouts, and by phone, so you can select to consult with mentors however it best suits your schedule and preferences.

7. Zero risk. Hiring a business consultant can get pricey, but mentoring from SCORE costs nothing. The free support from SCORE’s entrepreneurial experts can make a big difference on your business’s bottom line.

For more information on finding a business mentor or about starting or operating a small business, call SCORE at (434) 295-6712 or visit centralvirginia.score.org.

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