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Guidance Counselor: How to find a mentor for your business pursuits

When Utah Business interviews successful entrepreneurs, we typically ask them what advice they have for would-be entrepreneurs. And almost always, the advice is to find a mentor—someone who’s been around the block a few times and can give you honest feedback and wisdom distilled from hard experience.

A mentor sounds great, right? But where do you find one of these mythical beings? If your personal sphere doesn’t include entrepreneurs—or at least not the kind you want to emulate—and you don’t trust your supportive parents to tell it to you straight, where can you go to build relationships with Utah’s many experienced business leaders? Well, Utah is a great place to launch a business for many reasons, and one of them is the plethora of support organizations that exist to give new entrepreneurs a boost up. Here are just a few:

Chambers of commerce
Join a chamber to attend after-hours mixers, networking events and educational workshops. Utah is home to dozens of chambers, and there’s bound to be one in your area. The Salt Lake Chamber is the largest, with a membership of roughly 8,000. There are also chambers in Vernal, Logan, Moab, St. George and all other corners of the state. Utah also has the Utah Hispanic Chamber, the Utah Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the Utah Asian Chamber of Commerce, among other special interest chambers.

Industry associations
Become a member of an industry association to network with others in your industry and take advantage of specialized trainings and resources. Here’s a sampling of associations in Utah:

Business incubators
Get involved in a startup incubator or join a co-working space to get access to hands-on mentorship, seminars and workshops, exposure to potential investors and, often, a physical space to work from with internet access, phones, printers and more. Check out these options:

Business Resource Centers
Visit one of Utah’s Business Resource Centers, which were created by statute to serve as one-stop shops for business support, education and training, technical expertise, and networking and mentoring. There are 14 Business Resource Centers scattered throughout the state, mostly housed with state higher education institutions. A complete list of the centers can be found at goed.utah.gov.

SCORE Salt Lake
Get paired with a mentor who can speak to your specific situation through SCORE Salt Lake. SCORE is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization that offers free, confidential business advice from seasoned business owners and executives. SCORE also has an online library of business templates, guides and other tools.

Alumni associations
Become a member of your school’s alumni association to connect with alumni through programs like the University of Utah’s Young Alumni Networking & Speaker Series. Every college and university has an alumni association, and joining is a great way to meet people who have at least one thing in common with you—a devotion to your alma mater.