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Barbara Corcoran, successful entrepreneur and judge on the television show "Shark Tank," recently answered questions from high-profile small business experts in an OnDeck blog. SCORE asked Corcoran the following question:

How can a mentor help a small business owner and do you, or did you, have a mentor?

Here’s how Barbara answered:

A mentor can be an invaluable resource to a small business owner because they not only provide sound business advice based on personal experience, but they ALSO believe in you and that bolsters your confidence in yourself. But finding a mentor who has experience in your field and is willing to coach you through the hurdles is no easy task because all the smartest people are very busy.

My best mentor was my mother, and I was able to take lessons I learned from her growing up under her wing and apply them to my business on an almost daily basis. I credit her with half my business success. But if you don’t have a smart mother, then the next best thing is to find a great mentor elsewhere.

First you should identify the smartest people in your field and ask yourself, what you can do for them versus what you want them to do for you! EVERY day someone asks me “will you be my mentor?” Hardly an enticing sales pitch, and one I never accept. But if you can figure out some way to offer your free assistance to help the person with something they don’t have the time to do for themselves or can’t do for themselves, you can earn their respect AND THEY’LL BE FAR MORE WILLING to mentor you in return.

We’re honored to have had the opportunity to get Corcoran’s insight on the value of mentoring. She offers some sage advice that can help startup entrepreneurs and established small business owners alike.

Read OnDeck’s full article, 10 Small Business Questions with Barbara Corcoran, for her advice on other small business concerns, such as finding financing, generating sales and investing wisely.

And if you’re looking for a small business mentor, consider SCORE as the premier resource. With 300 offices across the U.S. and 10,000 volunteers with experience in all industries, we have mentors to guide you in all aspects of starting and growing a small business. Find your SCORE mentor today.

About the Author(s)

 Bridget  Weston

Bridget Weston is the CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE.

Barbara Corcoran Answers 10 Questions About Small Business Success