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Starting a Mentoring Program – A Complete Guide

Are you interested in starting a mentoring program online from scratch? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a mentoring program with NO money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample mentoring program business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample mentoring program marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for mentoring programs.

In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a mentoring program either at work, or church, or school; for youths and college students. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Why Start a Mentoring Program?

Creating and starting a mentoring program is a great way of adding value to your society as well as making some good income. Business mentors are professionals who have a lot of knowledge and experience of the business world and various markets. They assist both individuals and owners of business to meet their targets and objectives by teaching them what they need to know to move their career and business forward.

Basically if you have lots of experience, expertise and have achieved much success in a particular field of business or in various business fields then you can start a mentoring program and make some money. When you do this, you will receive income for supporting business owners by providing them with quality information and advice, business contacts and top notch political and technical expertise.

What Does It Take to Start a Mentoring Program Successfully?

Before starting a mentoring program business, there are certain factors you will need to put in place that will help make the business run smoothly and they include the following:

Make a decision if this is a business you will like to do on your own or partner with someone or a group of people. You will have to assess the needs of your environment and find out if there are similar businesses operating already that you can partner with or decide if it is a business you feel confident and competent enough to handle on your own. You also have to decide on what the objective of the business is. If you will like to mentor new businesses, small business owners or staff of cooperate organizations. This will enable you create a clear plan for your business and help you achieve it.

If you are okay managing the business on your own that is okay but to make your job much easier you can go ahead to hire a program manager. The program manager will help with the organization of the business and can serve as a link between you, the mentor and your clients (mentees).

The manager will help to take care of issues such as determining where the mentoring sessions will take place, determine how many times the mentor and mentees will meet as well as the duration of the meetings and develop policies and procedures to support the program. So if you feel handling all these will be a bit too much for you to do, then go ahead and get a manager.

Another aspect of the business is that you will have to try and be flexible as much as possible. Considering that you will be meeting people from different background with different levels of experience and expectations you will have to develop a flexible program to accommodate several people to suit their various needs. So when starting your mentoring program, identify areas that will need some flexibility and incorporate them into your plans.

Starting a mentoring program will require you to be focused and determined. This will help you in planning properly and making the right decisions and identifying the resources you will need to make the business a successful one and helping individuals and organizations thrive and excel.

Starting a Mentoring Program – A Complete Guide

  • The Mentoring Program Industry Overview

The mentoring program industry is rapidly growing fast largely due to more people and organizations realizing how important it can be to helping them reach their various goals and targets. As companies compete with each other on a daily basis in our very demanding and complex economy, they are constantly redefining themselves and developing new methods and strategies to support and equip their staff to be able to meet up with the various challenges of their jobs. Mentoring programs are seen by organizations as a way of meeting their targets and objectives.

  • Interesting Statistics About the Mentoring/Education Industry

A lot of companies have various benefits for their employees and these include mentoring programs to help prepare them for their job and boost their career. American Society for Training and Development conducted a study that showed 71% of Fortune 500 companies have various forms of corporate mentorship program that 75% of executives owe their current positions to the help they got from various mentoring programs.

In 2012, a survey carried out by Micromentor.org has shown that people who were mentored were able to increase their revenue by 106% or $47,000 while those who did not take part in any mentoring program had an increase in revenue of 14% or $6,600.

Another survey also showed that about 49% pre-launch businesses that had mentoring were able to start their businesses while 82% of them were able to survive for 1-2 years. This is a 13% higher rate than what the new average business survival rate is in the US today.

In the past mentoring was seen and considered as a relationship between an older and experienced individual who is the mentor and a less experienced younger individual who is the mentee. The mentor sets out to guide the young individuals through their careers so that they are able to make good decisions and achieve their dreams and aspirations. Over the years and with modern times this arrangement has changed and has led to various business opportunities created.

We now see different types of arrangements and innovative methods being made by individuals as they develop several techniques for their mentoring programs to suit the needs of individuals and organization making the industry very vibrant.

In the past mentoring programs were seen as a long term relationship between mentors and their mentees or clients. These days due to the fast pace of the business world, people changing jobs and careers and organizations needing immediate results, a mentoring program on a long term basis may not be needed. This means operators of mentoring business programs are able to have more clients over a shorter period of time which goes a long way bringing more income for the business.

Also it was normal to have people have a particular mentor at a time throughout their career which is quite rare to have these days as people engage more than mentor at a time. There are individuals and organizations that have more than one mentoring program to take care of their various specializations.

Organizations and individuals at different levels of their career take part in more than one mentoring program to be able to obtain different advices and opinions which can go a long way in helping them make the right decisions and take their careers and business to the next level.

People no longer look only towards family members or close friends for advice for their issues and are ready to meet professionals to guide them into making the right choices and this has led to the business expanding and making it more viable.

Another factor that has led to the growth of the industry is that more people realize that mentoring is not only needed for junior executives or new and small businesses as more experienced and older executives and top businesses realize that mentoring is needed at any stage of their career and business. Older people change jobs and businesses need to expand and seek the services of mentoring programs to make the right move.

The incentives and factors that make a person start this business it that apart from contributing and helping people and organizations grow their career and business they also have a great chance to make and earn a lot of profit from the business.

Starting a Mentoring Program – Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who require the service of a mentoring program vary and cuts across various sectors of the economy and involves people from all walks of life. Below is a list of the people and organizations that need the services of a mentoring program

  • Individuals who are starting a career and have just got a job
  • Experienced individuals who are looking to make a career change
  • New businesses starting off
  • Small business owners
  • Large companies and organizations
  • Business executives
  • Staff and employees of organization
  • Schools

List of Niche ideas Within the Mentoring Program Industry That You Can Specialize in

There are various niches an individual can specialize in and they include the following:

  • Healthcare and wellness niche
  • Alumni magazines niche
  • Non-profit niche
  • Aviation niche
  • School mentoring niche
  • Youth mentoring niche

The Level of Competition in the Mentoring Program Industry

The level of competition is quite high as more people realize the economic potentials and benefits they can derive from starting and setting up a mentoring business program. For you to therefore compete favorably in this type of business you have to know what you are doing and be on top of your game and be knowledgeable and experienced in your field to be successful.

As an entrepreneur just starting out you need to plan your business properly to be a success especially if there are established companies in the industry. Therefore ensure you acquire the resources you need and make the relevant contacts by introducing yourself to people and let them know your plans and what you intend to do.

List of Well – known brands in the Mentoring Industry

There are well known brands in the industry that offer mentoring services to several individuals and organizations to help them meet their goals and objectives. Below is a list of top and well-known brands that offer mentoring services in the United States of America

  • 100 Black Men of America Incorporated
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
  • Peer Resources
  • Morgan Stanley
  • The Mentoring Group

ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

Setting up a mentoring program business is a serious affair therefore there is a need to do a proper economic analysis to mitigate the threats and other risks involved in starting this business or putting your investment in the business.

If you want to set up a mentoring program business in the United States, your concern should not only be on how to get the space needed for an office, equipping it or getting the best hands in the industry, you should also have a roadmap for getting the clients that will patronize your business.

Even if you decide to partner with other individuals having an office space may not be needed immediately, especially as you just are starting as you can adopt the principle of meeting people at their places and venues. Another important factor to consider is that whether you are starting on your own or as a group it is important you have adequate knowledge and experience in your field of interest to adequately cater to the needs of your clients.

Is a Mentoring Program Worth Starting from Scratch or is Buying a Franchise Better?

This largely depends on your goals and objectives. This is a business you can start on your own and decide the way it operates especially if you believe in your expertise and capabilities. For example you can decide the niche you will offer your services and the type of organizations you will cater to. You can also decide to partner with other people to join ideas and run the business together.

On the other hand, if your aim is to enter the business and hit the ground running avoiding teething problems normally associated with startups then you can go ahead and purchase a franchise from a well-known and successful company as this will easily give you access to clients immediately and save you the problem of trying to develop a clients through contacts and referrals.

Possible Threats and Challenges You Will face When Starting a Mentoring Program

Despite being a rewarding and profitable business running a successful mentoring program faces several challenges that need to be taken care of to ensure the smooth operation of the business.

A challenge of the business is time. This occurs when a mentor has to deal with several clients and sharing available time between them equally and sufficiently could be very difficult. Also there are situations where individuals and organizations interested in participating in mentoring programs do not create enough time for the program and this leads to the mentor having to do a lot in a short time which can be quite demanding and difficult.

Another challenge for the business is the issue of compatibility between mentors and mentees. Even if mentors have a lot of experience and are knowledgeable in the areas needed by individuals and organizations if there is no synergy between them and those they are mentoring then problems could develop. In such a situation where you or your partners do not get along with your mentees a change or switch will have to be made by bringing people who understand and get along with each other to ensure the program goes on well.

When mentoring young children or youths, mentors could have problems with their guardian or parents which could affect the delivery of services. Parents may feel that their children are not making progress the way they expect and could believe that the mentor is not giving his or her best making both parties to clash. Parents in some cases may also end up getting jealous of the mentor because they feel their children are closer to their mentors than them. Their children look up to their mentors for advice and may not consult their parents anymore when making decisions that affect their school and career.

Another challenge is that mentees may not be satisfied with what you and the program has offered and delivered. There are times when mentoring sessions and meetings are over and participants leave feeling dissatisfied with what they have achieved. This is why it is very important to spell out in clear terms what the objectives of the program are and what participants will gain before starting so that everybody will be on the same page and know what to expect from each other.

Starting a Mentoring Program – Legal Issues

  • Best legal entity to use for a Mentoring Program

Before starting your mentoring business, there are several legal requirements you need to consider. It is also important to create a legal structure for your company which can be sole proprietorship, corporation or partnership.

Taking a look at this type of business it will be best for you to try incorporating the business especially if you expand greatly in future as you will enjoy limited liability. You will be a shareholder in the company and will not be held responsible for any debts of the company. Basically courtesy of incorporating the business you will only be liable for the money you have invested in the company.

  • Catchy Business Name ideas Suitable for a Mentoring Program

When choosing a name ensure that it is one that will grab the attention of people and most importantly enable them know what type of business you are doing. You need a name that can be remembered by people easily and make them patronize you.

Below are a few catchy names that can hopefully draw attention and clients to your business

  • Mentoring and You
  • Mentoring for All
  • Mentor and Youths

The Best Insurance Needed for a Mentoring Program

In a lot of countries around the world including the United States of America it is important to have some sort of insurance policy when operating a business. You may feel having an insurance policy may not be necessary considering your business is more of intellectual property but this is when you need it most to protect yourself and your business from any unforeseen circumstances especially if you expand in future.

Here some insurance policies you should consider having for your business

  • Professional liability insurance
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Property insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Health insurance
  • Professional malpractice insurance
  • Bodily injury and property damage liability

Intellectual Property Protection and Trademark

Since this business basically entails you sharing your wealth of experience knowledge garnered over so many years it will be advisable for you to file for intellectual property protection before you begin the business.

Intellectual property infringements and issues have become popular over the years and this is why it important you protect all the information connected to your business. If you do this you will protect the name of your company, your programs, notes, documents and other materials you have developed for your business.

To file for intellectual property in the United States, you need to file an application with the USPTO and after meeting all the necessary requirements, you will be given the final approval for your trademark.

  • Is Professional Certification Needed to Start a Mentoring Program?

Despite having years of experience you may still need some sort of professional qualification and training to show that you are good at what you do. It may also help you develop other skills that you never knew about and reveal to you certain techniques you can apply when mentoring individuals and organizations which can make your job better and easier. If you are busy and cannot attend various professional programs physically you can take up the options of learning online when you have the time.

Some training that can be useful and beneficial to you include

  • Certified Mentoring Program Manager, Level 1
  • The MentorCoach Training Program
  • MentorCoach and ICF Certification

List of Legal Documents You Need to Run a Mentoring Program

Before starting a mentoring business program, you are required have the legal documents requirement for operating the business in the country. These are a list of the legal documents you will need to have to be able to set up a mentoring business program

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • DBA business name
  • Non – disclosure Agreement
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Operating Agreement
  • Company Bylaws
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy

Writing a Business Plan for your Mentoring Program

When starting a mentoring program, one of the first things to do is to get in touch with experts who can help you create a good business plan that will be good for you. This is important as a good business plan will serve as a template which you can work with to help you run a successful company.

When you have a good business plan it minimizes your risks of making mistakes in your business and this will give you a great opportunity to properly manage your business enabling you to deal with problems and challenges that come arise and help you grow and expand your company.

When writing a business plan it should well detailed and should be able to pass a reality test if subjected to one. Your business plan should consist of figures and facts as well as other indices that apply to the mentoring program industry.

The main reason for writing a business plan is not just for the sake of writing one. The plan is meant for you to actually act on it. The plan is a well thought out document on how you run your business from the beginning efficiently.

The business plan should have in it all the methods and techniques you will use in managing and building the business. The basic rule of writing a business plan is to ensure you are realistic in what you put down in the document. Ensure you do not over estimate values when placing figures for income and profit. It is even better if you underestimate when writing your business plan so you will not be disappointed when the real situation of events comes to pass.

The main areas to cover in a business plan should include the following:

Executive summary and Company’s descriptions: you are required to write about the concept of your business, the description of your company, the company’s vision statement, mission statement and where your company will be located and also if you intend to sell out franchise or open outlets in different cities in the United States of America.

Other vital components which should not be missing in your business plan include products and services offering, SWOT analysis, competitive analysis, marketing and sales analysis / strategies, market goals, target market, costing and financial projection, pricing, expansion and growth strategies, publicity and advertising strategy, budget and start – up capital generation and more.

Detailed Cost Analysis for Starting a Mentoring Business Program

You will spend quite a bit of money before you can successfully start your mentoring business program. The location you choose for your business will have a great impact on the overall cost of starting the company which makes it all the more important for you to have properly done your market survey and feasibility studies before making a budget and scouting for funds for the business.

Here are some of the basic cost you will incur when starting a mentoring business program in the United States of America:

  • The Total Fee for incorporating the Business in United States of America – $750.
  • The budget for Insurance, permits and license – $5,000
  • The Amount for renting a suitable office facility with enough space if needed in the United States of America (Re – Construction of the facility inclusive) – $50,000.
  • The Cost for equipping the office (computers, printers, fax machines, furniture, telephones, filing cabins and other electronics) – $15,000
  • The Cost of Launching an official Website – $700
  • Additional Expenditure (Business cards, Signage, Adverts and Promotions et al) – $2,500
  • Miscellaneous- $1,000

Depending on how big or small you want to start the business you will need the following amounts depending on its size

  • To set up a small scale business, you will need about $50,000
  • For a medium scale business, you will need about of $150,000
  • For a large scale business, you need up to $1,000,000

Financing Your Mentoring Business Program

If you plan to start your mentoring business program on a small scale, you do not really need a lot of capital to begin. It is only when you have decided to launch your company on a large scale that you will need to raise the required start-up capital.

To start your mentoring business program on a large scale you will need a good office space, furniture and equipment for the office, some capital for the payment of at least three months salaries and for supplies.

To be able to finance the business, you should first of all consider having a good business plan. If you have a good business plan in place you will not need to work too hard to convince investors, banks and friends to like your idea and go ahead to loan you the capital you need to start the business.

The following options can be explored when trying to source for capital to start a mentoring business program

  • Raising money from selling properties, shares and personal savings
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Applying for a loan from banks
  • Applying for seed funding and business grants from donor organizations and angel investors
  • Sourcing for loans from your friend and family members
  • Get money from your Credit cards
  • Cash advance against the income from your credit card

Choosing a Location for Your Mentoring Business Program

It is vital to make some consultation before choosing a location for your company. If you do not choose a good location, the business will find it difficult to excel. Getting an office space in a good location might be difficult but it is very essential to the success of the business you are about to start. Choosing a wrong location could lead to the business eventually crashing, therefore for you to build a successful mentoring program business, you will need to get an office space in a good location where individuals and companies can easily reach and contact you.

It is worth pointing out that this is only needed if you require a physical presence and want people to come and meet you to hold meetings and sessions as well as needing a space for your administration staff. This is a business you can do from home especially if you are starting on your own and on a small scale. If at the start of the business you need to go out more to meet people in their homes or place of work or doing program for companies at their offices then starting from home may not be a bad idea as it can also help you save money.

Another option is starting your business online especially if your clients are far away or do not have time to meet for one on one programs. This will further help to reduce the cost of running the business.

If you decide to get a location, the following factors should be considered when choosing a location

  • Mode of operation
  • Demography of the location
  • Nearness to other business and services
  • Accessibility of the location and parking space for your clients
  • The local laws and regulations in the community / state
  • Traffic and security

Starting a Mentoring Program – Technical & Manpower Details

If you have decided not to work from home or online and to rent a space you will need some members of staff to work with in the office. Also you will need some office equipment like computers, telephone lines, furniture, printer, photocopies and fax machine. Depending on your area of specialization and demand of your clients you may also need to employ experts in various fields to boost the portfolio of your company.

For instance if you are an expert in starting a business and along the line you get requests from companies in business for many years or meet people who need help when changing their career, you will have to get experts in these fields. You need a Chief Operating Officer, a human resource manager, a business development executive, an accountant and a receptionist; therefore you can in this case employ about 5 staff at the initial stage.

  • The Services Process Involved in the Mentoring Program Industry

The mode of operation and service rendered depends on the niche you are operating in. Basically it requires you contacting companies or individuals who need mentoring services. Once they have decided and accepted to patronize your service you either invite them to your office or go over to their own office and start the program. The duration of the program will depend on certain factors like amount of time available, number of participants and category of business. Once payment has been made for the service, the mentoring program can then commence.

Starting a Mentoring Program – The Marketing Plan

  • Marketing Ideas and Strategies for a Mentoring Program

This is a service oriented business so you have to create a great personal and company profile which should include the profile of your board of directors and management team. Considering that your business is to improve the expertise and knowledge of people, having highly qualified and successful professionals on your board and management team will definitely give you the much needed edge in the market.

Here are some ways you can market your business:

  • You can advertise in the media, using the radio, T.V and newspapers
  • Distributing flyers and leaflets that explain what your business does
  • Attend business seminars and workshops and make contacts and promote your services
  • Promote your business online, using social media channels and create a website where people can have a look of the services your offering

Possible Competitive Strategies for Winning your Competitors in the Mentoring Program Industry

It could be a daunting task for a start up to compete in the fast growing mentoring program industry. This is why it is very important for top experts to be on your management team.

Whenever you have the opportunity to organize a program ensure you give top notch services and be on top of your game all the time. This will give you an edge over your competition and earn you several referrals which will boost the earnings of your company.

  • Possible Ways to Increase Client Retention for a Mentoring Program

The best way to increase customer’s retention as well as attract new customers is to always satisfy customers. Studies have shown that a major reason people leave a particular product or service is because of a drop in quality and poor quality customer service. Continuous improvement of your services will help in maintaining your customers.

Purchasing a CRM software can help you achieve this as it enables you get closer to your clients, carry out surveys, introduce new services and prices to them with no problems. You can also make them feel appreciated as you can also with the help of the software gather valuable information about them and use this to send them messages on important days in their lives like their birthdays and anniversaries. You can also receive feedback and complaints from your clients using this means.

Strategies to Boost your Mentoring Program Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate identity

You will need to engage the services of a good and reliable consultant to create a ‘’buzz” about your services and develop strategies that will help you easily gain access to the market and reach your target audience. All you publicity strategies should be done properly so that your service can be easily known and understood.

Below are some ways you can boost your brand and create awareness using the following medium:

  • You can advertise in the media, using the radio, T.V and newspapers
  • Distributing flyers and leaflets that explain what your business does
  • Attend business seminars and workshops and make contacts and promote your services
  • You can organize workshops and offer some of your services at a discounted rate
  • Promote your business online, using social media channels and create a website where people can have a look of the services your offering
  • Create branded materials like shirts, pens, note pads and give to people as a way of promoting your company

Creating a Suppliers / Distribution Network for your Mentoring Program

Networking in this line of business can be very helpful as it helps in improving, growing and expanding the business. For example you or your employees may not be experts in certain fields but partnering with other experts in various fields can bring in more business for your company which in the long run will boost your profile.

Tips for Running a Mentoring Program Successfully

Starting a new business and competing with established companies is already a difficult task but it must be done to have a thriving and successful business. The key to having a successful business is staying true to your vision and mission and adhering to your business plan and only making changes or adjustments where necessary.

Ensure you are a good leader and have an open door policy whereby your staff can feel free to come to you and offer suggestions on how the company can improve and be better. Meet with staff on a regular basis probably weekly or monthly to hold meetings on how the business is doing and how to improve on it. To boost morale of the staff, you can create incentives that will encourage them to give their best.

Most importantly, do not compromise on the quality of your service as this is what will get you clients and keep you in business for a long time.

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