Beltsville, Maryland-based construction company, MAXI-CON2 scored success by having a more seasoned business as its mentor, to offer guidance and support when it was necessary. Convincing a large company to take such a vested interest in your business isn’t easy, says Julie Elliott, president and CEO of MAXI-CON2. “A small business has to prove it has the capability to manage and perform the work,â€ she explains. It also has to differentiate itself from its competitors in the eyes of the potential mentor. Elliott offers some ways to make your business a more attractive mentee.
Amass an all-star staff. Look for people who are standouts in their field. “If you have a project manager who has a phenomenal history, that person becomes part of your business’s rÃ©sumÃ©.â€ Elliott says. Tout those employees to the potential mentor just as you’d tout your own accomplishments.
Get references on board. Find former clients and colleagues who would be willing to vouch for your business’s work. Let them know what you’re trying to do so they can be ready to speak to the potential mentor on your behalf.
Embrace vulnerability. If a larger business is going to mentor your small business, you have to be willing to share your company’s successes as well as its blemishes. The mentor may be able to help you turn around some of your liabilities.
Strike when times are good. A potential mentor wants to see that your business is well-managed and has a good reputation. “If your company is on shaky ground, that’s not the time to approach a mentor company,â€ Elliott adds.