My CEA: CEA’s Mentoring Program Brings Value For Small Businesses
A free coaching and mentoring program that pairs CE industry veterans with small business owners and entrepreneurs ready to run with a new business idea? It’s CEA’s mentor program, and it almost sounds too good to be true.
Run by the association’s Small Business Council, the members-only program is ideal for small business owners looking for guidance to grow or improve their businesses. Mentors meet one-on-one with members at CEA events and virtually to provide advice and feedback. Now in its fifth year, the program boasts almost 50 mentors who provide honest, supportive and constructive feedback to the next generation of small businesses.
The program has created new opportunities for small business owners and their companies, which explains why many small business members consider it the most valuable benefit of CEA membership. “Mentors and mentees alike raved about the value of the program and how much they enjoyed the experience, so we’ve continued to build the program over the years and now coordinate over 150 mentoring sessions annually,” says Deb Kassoff, of CEA’s Small Business Council.
The mentor program is well suited to anyone at any stage of building a business. Here’s a look at a few of the small business owners who have really benefitted from the program:
Robbin Kruel, Klass Act Solutions
Robbin Kruel, who is co-owner of Klass Act Solutions with her husband, Kurt, recalls that they discovered CEA’s mentor program at a real crossroads in their business. She says the tough economy proved exceptionally challenging to their business model, to the point that they were considering closing up shop if they couldn’t bring in new revenue.
CEA matched the couple up with a mentor who immediately had ideas for them on diversifying and shifting the business plan to a managed service program model. “Instead of going in on time-and-materials basis for our educational customers, we estimated how many hours per year our clients would need service, and gave them a flat fee,” Kruel explains.
Their mentor’s advice proved invaluable and spot on, and four years later the Kruel’s business is thriving. They still meet with their CEA mentor occasionally, and value the ongoing relationship. “He checks in about once a year,” Kruel says. “It’s like having a business advisor in our back pocket.”