Mentoring is widely recognised, both within the entrepreneurial, start-up community and the wider professional world as important to career progression and success. Yet while we can all appreciate the benefits of mentoring, there are a lot of founders out there who either aren’t mentoring people or haven’t considered mentoring. Why?
As a business owner, founder and start-up entrepreneur myself, I know how keen I am not to burden myself with yet more time and work commitments. Any fellow start-up entrepreneurs out there will know just how little free time we have, particularly in the early stages of setting up a business. This is probably the single biggest reason why founders’ shy away from mentoring. But what a lot of founders don’t realise, is just how little time you have to give up to mentor someone. As a mentor, you can set the expectations and you can decide just how much or how little time you wish to offer to a prospective mentee; this is just one of the reasons why mentoring is so valuable and empowering – because it’s done by both parties setting the expectations. Mentoring has no formal rules, although setting boundaries and deciding upon objectives can be very valuable. What’s more, with whatever amount of time you decide to give to mentoring, you can have a very significant impact.
Having mentored others for a while now (as well as being mentored), I realise that it isn’t just about giving back and helping others. Mentoring can help you to grow as an entrepreneur. I’ve been mentoring one university student for six months. He is developing his first business venture. In mentoring him we speak monthly about the challenges he faces, the markets he is targeting and the product he is developing. Having these conversations has opened my eyes to more marketing opportunities for my own business, as well as getting me to think about business from other perspectives. I think that a lot of founders are so wrapped up in their own business that they can easily forget the rest of the world’s products, business ventures and ultimately opportunities. I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past. But the mentoring that I do continues to unlock these opportunities for me.
Being both mentored and mentoring others, I know how much benefit my mentors can provide to me – and indeed do on a regular basis. That, admittedly, was a big part of why I began to look at mentoring others. As a start-up founder, you are constantly aware of the extreme learning curves, the risks taken and the feeling of being so far from your comfort zone. These risks often result in failure. It is simply a fact of life, not only for entrepreneurs but indeed anyone taking risks. But minimising those risks and learning from those failures is a key part of a business. I have learnt a lot from the mistakes and failures of business so far, but I can also learn from the failures of others and this can take shape in the form of both learnings from my mentors and my mentees. Often, we think that only those who are mentoring us have things to teach us. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There have been several occasions when mentees of mine have taught me of their failures and in doing so saved me from repeating these mistakes. So, if you are in the start-up space and developing a business, founding a company or have already set up ventures, then I would strongly urge you to consider mentoring. It may surprise you just how much you learn from teaching and helping others. And if nothing else, giving back is always rewarding. It’s something I’m passionate about and I am now developing PushFar.com, to help connect mentors and mentees, both in the entrepreneurial sector and the wider professional world too.
Guest post from: PushFar.com