BMNY is Responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on New York State Businesses. Find more resources at the Empire State Development homepage.

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Coronavirus and Small Business

Poised and Ready to Respond

MicroMentor’s virtual model was built to connect small business owners with business mentors and is more relevant than ever in the face of COVID-19. At MicroMentor, we are uniquely positioned to support our community of over 75,000 entrepreneurs from 179 different countries.

With more than a decade of experience and data, we have proven that mentoring is a crucial resource for businesses around the world and improves the resiliency and growth of small and growing businesses (SGBs). In fact, new businesses are almost 20% more likely to survive with mentoring.

With the global economy heavily impacted by the unprecedented scale of the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to remember that micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises account for more than 90% of businesses and anywhere from half to two-thirds of jobs worldwide. During a global economic slowdown, these small businesses are most acutely affected, with less developed economies and industries such as tourism, food service, and retail being hit hardest.

Impact: Salman, Nigeria

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“With my mentor, I have been able to walk the journey with an experienced guide. The journey without a mentor would have been tough & hectic, almost impossible to survive alone.”

Nigerian entrepreneur Salman Olawale has been using the down-time created by the pandemic to build a more resilient model for his laundry business. After losing most of his revenue overnight at the onset of the pandemic, Salman turned to MicroMentor where he met his mentor, Hanna Obersteller. Together, they are fine-tuning Salman’s accounting and developing a responsive business strategy to ensure his business survives and continues growing.

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We want to ensure that our entrepreneurs receive the best mentoring assistance they can during the COVID-19 crisis. Though this is a time of great urgency for you, it's even more important to understand exactly what to expect in a mentoring relationship and to be able to maximize the experience.

Get the Most out of a Mentoring Relationship

Though you have urgent needs, it's very important to be properly prepared for a mentoring relationship and to know how to get the most out of it. For that reason, it will greatly enhance your chances of success by understanding exactly what to expect in a mentoring relationship and how to properly prepare for it.

1. How to Connect with a Mentor

To connect with a mentor, it's important to prepare and make the right first impression. We've outlined the five most important tips to successfully connect with the right mentor and create a relationship that works. Includes a printable preparation worksheet and business model canvas.

2. Understanding Your Relationship

What can you expect from a mentoring relationship? We've identified four key phases in the mentoring lifecycle, and understanding them can help make your relationship more successful. Includes a printable mentoring roadmap.

3. Communication Best Practices

Mentors and entrepreneurs on MicroMentor are frequently some distance apart—across a country, or across the world! Here are some detailed tips on getting the most out of mentoring at a distance.

4. Post Questions and Read Answers in the Q&A

Outside of a mentoring relationship, you can still post specific COVID-19 related questions in our Q&A. You can also read the questions posed by others, and their responses. Our mentors comb through the Q&A regularly, so it's a great place not only to find answers to specific questions but also to discover mentors that might be a great fit for you

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Small businesses around the world are facing extreme hardships due to COVID-19 and we need to support them in every way we can. Our mentors are at the center of our community and we are asking you for help in supporting small businesses.

Mentor Vibhas Sen helped one entrepreneur pivot their business to meet the changing demands of a COVID-19 economy. Read more from Vibhas here.

What do we know about the needs of the MicroMentor entrepreneur community and COVID-19?

Given widespread business closures and disruptions, many entrepreneurs are primarily seeking financial support at this time. However, we have heard from many MicroMentor community members that they are also looking for help with:

  • Financial planning
  • Locating, applying for, and managing loans and other forms of financing
  • Negotiating allowances with financial institutions
  • Diversifying income streams and increasing online sales
  • Human resources, which includes: sick leave, sick pay, furlough, health insurance, unemployment benefits, remote work,
  • Communications and client relationship management
  • Digital marketing and social media management
  • Partnerships strategies
  • Managing stress
  • As well as pivoting business plans, change management, crisis management, and contingency planning.

Industries with highest need:

  • Travel/Tourism/Hospitality/Leisure
  • Restaurant/Cafe/Bar/Catering
  • Retail
  • Export/Import
  • Entertainment/Recreation/Events
  • Adult/Elder/Home Health Care
  • Childcare
  • Real Estate
  • Education/Training

How can you help entrepreneurs through mentoring?

Direct Entrepreneurs to Financial Resources

While mentoring should never include the exchange of financial resources, sharing advice on how to locate, apply for, and manage emergency funding is encouraged.

Practice Empathy

In the face of crisis, mentoring can offer an invaluable source or both technical as well as emotional support. Help your mentee see the path forward by first asking them to articulate their challenges and then repeating them back to them

Get to the Point

In an environment where entrepreneurs are juggling many different tasks at once, use a lean mentoring format to get to work on one specific business challenge at a time:

Diagnose need

  • What is the central challenge the mentee is facing?
  • What is driving the mentee to explore this challenge at this time?
  • What, if anything, has the mentee already done to address this challenge?

List possible solutions

  • Create a list of relevant projects that might address the current challenge.

Select and approach

  • Of the potential solutions, which is the most impactful one to pursue?

Develop scope

  • What is in the scope of this project?
  • What actions must be taken to complete this project?

How can you help off the MicroMentor platform?

Recruit your Contacts to Become Mentors

  • Share a post on your social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Send an email out to your contacts
  • Refer an entrepreneur to someone who you think might be a good mentor via the platform’s referral functionality (Your contact does not need to be a registered MicroMentor member to receive the referral email.)