Starting up a new business is hard. It is good to have somebody to offer you advice on decisions and to look over the shoulder when starting your first business. It is beneficial to be involved in a mentoring program as an entrepreneur.
What is mentoring? Mentoring is a way to assist and support the novice entrepreneur – someone who has recently started his business. Likewise, it is desirable for the owner managers of growing small firms to have the support of a mentor. Mentoring can occur in a formalised context – such mentoring is said to be formal. It can also occur in informal context – when both parties decide on their own to initiate and develop the mentoring relationship.
Entrepreneurs need mentors because of the complex and wide-ranging tasks they are required to perform. Mentoring is also relevant to the personal development of entrepreneurs; mentors can become positive role models who inspire their mentees to emulate them. This provides an appropriate form of support for entrepreneurs because it allows them to improve their management skills.
Mentors can facilitate the learning process by converting their own knowledge into a form that is compatible with that of their mentees. Typically, a mentor is a business expert; some are retired businesspeople, who offer coaching for entrepreneurs and small businesses. For example, a mentor who retired from a career in banking could focus on helping small businesses with financial management – e.g. in determining the right time to make business investments.
Mentors encourage young entrepreneurs to think and learn from their own actions in critical situations, so that they can change their behaviour in the future, or at least draw lessons from it. Mentors may help entrepreneurs develop their opportunity recognition filters – i.e. help them become more alert and prepared to recognise opportunities.
Depending on the frequency of contact with the mentor and the intensity of the psychological support provided, mentoring helps to improve the self-confidence and self-esteem of entrepreneurs.
Mentors help entrepreneurs to commit to reflexive learning following critical situations. Entrepreneurs learn to think and learn from their own actions in critical situations, so that they can change their behaviour in the future, or at least draw lessons from it, in order to help them lessen or avoid such critical periods in the future.
Mentoring allows entrepreneurs to examine their businesses from a more objective standpoint, while continuing to play their role as its leaders and think about its development.
Another benefit of mentoring is the important role it plays in distinguishing between good and bad entrepreneurs. Good and bad entrepreneurs are distinguished by the extent to which they improve their ability to learn from their mistakes. This ability is improved by a good mentoring relationship.
The mentor-mentee relationship helps the entrepreneur to develop as both an entrepreneur and a person. Mentoring also promotes action learning and it helps entrepreneurs to improve their management skills; with the support of a person with extensive business experience.
From: St-Jean, E and Audet, J. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring Vol. 7, No.1, February 2009
Categories: Mentoring Programs For Entrepreneurs