How to be
a Business Mentor
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” ― Henry Adams.
A business mentor is helpful to not only new entrepreneurs, but small businesses owners and organizations, as well. According to a 2014 survey by the UPS Store, 88 percent of business owners with a mentor say that having one is invaluable.
What is a Business Mentor?
A business mentor is someone who offers their wisdom to someone who is less experienced. Business mentors spread their knowledge and experience by equipping mentee’s with counsel, advice, professional contacts and cultural know-how—all while providing support and encouragement. Their main interest is to give back and share their valuable insights and expertise.
A business mentor can:
Share their business sense
Provide input for new ideas
Help shorten your learning curve
Suggest ways to generate startup capital
Recognize potential risks and red flags
Potentially help provide opportunities by networking
Share knowledge on specific areas of expertise
Provide encouragement on your entrepreneurial journey
Business Mentor How-To’s
1. Believe in your mentee.
You must believe in your mentee both personally and professionally. A sense of satisfaction will come when you watch someone you care about grow and succeed.
2. Have strong listening skills.
Without interrupting, listen to your mentee attentively. Refrain from giving a response based on feelings, opinions or judgment (even if you disagree with what they are saying). You should also refrain from sharing your own experiences until you are certain on what they’re trying to address.
3. Make yourself accessible.
A mentor must remain available for their mentee to ask questions. Keep important meetings and arrive on time.
4. Have a strong desire to help others grow.
Be sure you’re committed to helping others grow, as this will be your main goal. Ideally, you will have a past in helping others succeed.
5. See your mentee as a person.
A mentoring relationship is a personal one, so be sure to take interest in getting to know your mentee. Learn about their hopes for the future and guide them to reach their goals.
6. Be committed.
Being a business mentor is a job that requires commitment. Follow through with your word, as you have someone else depending on you.
7. Have patience.
Mentoring can be satisfying, but it can also be a hard task. Be patient with your mentee, provide constructive criticism and don’t let emotions, such as anger, take over.
How to Begin Business Mentoring
If you have someone in mind, you can simply begin mentoring through your network or organization. In-company mentoring programs can be a great way for your organization to retain employees, as well as share their expertise.
If you’re looking for a program to help you connect with a mentee, either online or in-person, those are also available.
SCORE: The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a nonprofit association with over 300 chapters around the country. Experienced executives and business leaders volunteer their time as mentors to new entrepreneurs and small business owners, either online or in person.
MicroMentor: This free online service connects entrepreneurs and small business owners with mentors. Their goal is to help small businesses thrive and employ more people.
Contact one of these organizations to begin volunteering as a business mentor.