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The Small Business Mentoring Service

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by Sue Stevenson (subscribe)
I write essays, short stories and political commentary and believe the colour orange is unfairly discriminated against.
Published April 25th 2014
For budding entrepreneurs or established businesses
Angela Marie, birds, sky
How to bring your dreams down to earth? Pic by Angela Marie
Do you have a dream for a business idea and you're considering seeing whether it would survive the birth from your head and heart out into the world? This is very scary (I know because I'm in the process of doing this myself with my own dream). How do you take your vision - how you want it to look, what you want it to accomplish, how it would benefit the world - and translate it into business plans and feasibility studies and the nuts and bolts of getting funding?

It's a scary thing to do, which is why the dream needs to be one that you love enough for it to survive subjection to spreadsheets. And it ~ and you ~ also need people to support its growth, to give you feedback about whether it is a practical idea (and if not, how you could make it practically work). What better people than those who have been there before?

Or maybe your business idea is already out there living in the world and you've come up against some issues that have you scratching your head and you'd like some advice.

The Small Business Mentoring Service has been around since 1986, providing mentoring for budding and established businesses. They have around 120 mentors from different industries and with different specialties. Depending on location and availability you can choose the mentor whose experience most appeals or who you feel might be your best fit. Sessions run up to 1.5 hours and cost between $80-100 (SBMS recommends between three and four sessions) and they come to you.

If money is tight, SBMS mentors provides free mentoring sessions through Small Business Victoria. Your local council may also provide this service. Unfortunately, you will not be able to choose your mentor in these instances, and if you book in for more than one session you won't be guaranteed the same mentor.

I attended one of the free mentoring sessions in the funky purple portable van, which travels around to different locations in regional Victoria. In this instance, we sat outside the Coles car park in Mooroolbark while I got to chew the fat with Tony de Stefano and explore some ideas about my business idea. If nothing else, doing this was an encouragement to keep going, to work out what the next step is, and to clarify what I have already learned about my idea and what I still need to solidify. These free sessions occur throughout the year - you can see when the bus might be near you on SBV's site. These free sessions get snapped up fast.

The Small Business Mentoring Service van - touring Melbourne and Victoria
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Why? Practical mentoring from business experts
Where: Melbourne and regional Victoria - they come to you
Cost: Between $80-100 a session, or free sessions through Small Business Victoria
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