Oprah Winfrey once stated that “a mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself,” underscoring mentors’ pivotal role in personal and professional development. The importance of mentorship amplifies for entrepreneurs seeking business growth. The statistics do not lie, as entrepreneurs who receive guidance from an experienced mentor experience an 83 percent surge in revenue on average, while those without mentors merely inch forward at 16 percent. This speaks to the positive impact of expert advice, and a great place to find this type of valuable mentorship is through a Regional Innovation Centre (RIC).
What exactly is a RIC? A RIC is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping entrepreneurs scale their businesses. Offering a comprehensive suite of services – mentorship, networking opportunities, programming, and funding – RICs act as catalysts for innovation and success. There are currently 17 RICs in Ontario, including Boundless Accelerator! Funded through the Government of Ontario, these RICs primarily offer programming and services to founders in the earlier stages of the business cycle or those looking to scale up. In 2020, the RIC network had supported nearly 4,500 ventures and the average venture revenue has grown 13 times since 2010.
RICs can be a vital resource for entrepreneurs, as they provide guidance across many areas of business, set founders up with networking and funding opportunities, and ensure that entrepreneurs do not feel alone in their business journey. With a team of expert mentors behind them, RICs can provide entrepreneurs with specific, tailored advice that will help them take their businesses to the next level. RICs contract or hire mentors with a particular area of expertise, such as marketing, sales, business strategy, etc., so clients are sure to receive advice that aligns with their goals from someone with similar experiences and knowledge on how to achieve success in their field.
Beyond advice, RICs open doors to extensive networking opportunities. With such an extensive network of experts, they can connect their clients with other industry specialists, funders, angel investors, potential customers, and many more! Through their programming, RICs can also provide workshops, webinars, and panel events where they deliver valuable information and foster a community where entrepreneurs can forge meaningful connections that will propel them forward in their business journey.
While business-related guidance is essential, RICs recognize how to combat the most significant challenge in entrepreneurship – isolation. A recent study shows that 75 percent of small business owners harbour concerns about their mental health, and over 50 percent of these respondents attributed their worries to doing it alone. RICs step in as support pillars, with mentors, program managers, and other staff members providing a sense of camaraderie. Entrepreneurs can express their concerns, seek advice, and connect with peers facing similar challenges. It is often remarked that the most difficult part of entrepreneurship is the loneliness, but with the support of the RICs, founders are never truly alone.
For founders seeking expert advice, valuable connections, and a supportive community, reaching out to a RIC is an excellent strategic move. Locate your nearest RIC here and take your business to the next level!