The Ozarks Small Business Incubator (OzSBI) has been serving entrepreneurs located in Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Shannon, Texas and Wright counties since 2012. The most-requested service we offer is business mentoring provided by our team of staff and trained volunteer business professionals. Traditionally, most of our mentoring has taken place at the OzSBI location in West Plains, but we believe we can better serve our rural clients by building out a robust and skilled Mentor Network throughout our service area that is connected to the broader support of OzSBI.
In 2023, OzsBI was awarded a three-year grant to launch the Start and Grow: Business Mentoring & Training for Success. The primary goals of this project are to grow and expand our Mentor Network, increase OzSBI’s outreach efforts across the region, and host business classes in every county we serve. As such, we have created three ways for our area business professionals to become a part of our Mentor Network: Community Connectors, Subject Area Experts, and Mentors.
Community Connectors are community champions who connect entrepreneurs and business owners to OzSBI resources and support. Community Connectors may be business owners, chamber directors, city administrators, etc. who have their pulse on the local business community. Community Connectors may:
What do Community Connectors do?
- Promote OzSBI events by sharing Facbook posts, press releases, flyers, etc.
- Identify and/or arrange for OzSBI to speak at civic club and chamber meetings
- Host workshops or arrange for them to be held locally
- Identify entrepreneurs that need startup assistance
- Refer Existing businesses that need help
OzSBI supports Community Connectors by sharing events and marketing materials, presenting at community meetings, and teaching workshops and mentoring clients on site.
Estimated Time Commitment: 2-4 hours per month
Subject Area Experts
Subject Area Experts are business owners with expertise in a specific field or industry, such as Medicaid billing, manufacturing, retail, marketing or business professionals such as an accountant, attorney, financial adviser, IT technician, etc. Subject area experts may:
What do Subject Area Experts do?
Mentor clients in their subject area
Track meetings, time spent with clients, and share meeting notes with OzSBI
Be guest speakers at workshops or teach classes
Hold virtual “Office Hours” where you give 30 minutes of your time advising a business owner
OzSBI supports Subject Area Experts by arranging for speaking engagements, scheduling mentor sessions, and providing the portal for individuals to sign up for Office Hours.
Estimated Time Commitment: 2 hours a month
Mentors are business owners (active or retired) or business professionals who have a strong desire to support entrepreneurs in their journey. They often feel compelled to give back to the local business community and want to be a part of their successes.
What do OzSBI Mentors do?
- Apply to join OzSBI’s Mentor Team
- Receive mentor training and engage in mentor meetings with business owners, first as part of a team and later alone
- Share meeting notes, client milestones, and mentoring hours with OzSBI
- Attend quarterly mentor training sessions
- Potentially help teach classes such as our free business startup workshop, Smart Start
OzSBI supports Mentors by providing initial and ongoing mentor training, arranging meetings, and sharing mentoring tools, such as GrowthWheel.
Estimated Time Commitment: 2 hours per month per mentee