E-mentoring Small Business Through the Web

Kelly K. Spors, Web Sites Offer Access to Mentors: People are Matched with Those Willing to Share Expertise, Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2008, at B7.

MicroMentor is a nonprofit organization started in 2001 that matches mentors with protégés hoping to start small business enterprises. To use MicroMentor, a person creates a profile detailing his/her mentoring needs and experiences that can be viewed by others. Once the site makes a match, mentoring can take place via email, phone, or instant messaging.  Sturdy McKee wanted to start his own physical therapy practice and used MicroMentor to find someone who had experience opening that type of practice. McKee filled out a profile, including his goals, and was matched with an accountant from the UK who had experience setting up a similar enterprise.

Most protégés who were mentored through MicroMentor feel the need to mentor others. McKee has since mentored two others.  One downfall of using sites like MicroMentor is that it isn’t necessarily safe to communicate information about one’s business plan over the net to a complete stranger. Also, it is easy for miscommunication to occur over email. However, the service is unique in that it allows people to easily communicate and find someone with similar experience anywhere in the world, who can offer advice about starting business ventures that might not have been possible had the site not existed.

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