Instead of a traditional one-way mentorship programme where the mentor is expected to ‘teach’ the mentee, we prefer a bi-directional one where both parties (we like the term ‘mentor partners’) are learning from each other. After all, everyone has something to share, whether from their own unique experiences, their field of expertise, or simply their way of thinking or approaching issues.
This is particularly true for entrepreneurs, as we are all walking a similar yet completely different journey. A veteran entrepreneur with a successful technology startup can learn from a first-time entrepreneur in the retail industry, for example. Mentoring is also an excellent form of networking and all entrepreneurs know just how powerful professional networks can be.
With this mindset, anyone and everyone can — and should — be a mentor! Do it, because benefits you, your mentor partner, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem as a whole.
Here are our top tips to make a bi-directional mentorship work:
|1.||Choose your mentor partner wisely. A good mentor partner is someone who is willing and committed to sharing. It can be equally beneficial to partner someone very similar or completely different from you. In fact, you don’t have to limit yourself to one if your schedule permits!|
|2.||Set expectations. Unlike workplace programmes, entrepreneur-to-entrepreneur mentorships tend to be more casual. Even if your sessions are quick catch-ups over coffee, it’s good to discuss your objectives and set expectations straight. For example, you could agree to meet up once a month so that time commitments are clear from the start.|
|3.||Be open-minded. Everyone has something valuable to teach. Even if what they are sharing sounds irrelevant on the surface, think deeper and you may find valuable ways to apply the learning to your own context. Similarly, on your part, be generous about your sharing and receptive to new ideas.|
So, to answer the question we posed at the start of this article, now’s the time to be a mentor! For more resources to support you on your entrepreneurial journey, subscribe using the form below.
Traditional mentorship programmes (where a senior person guides a junior one) are great, but we think entrepreneurs would benefit more from a bi-directional mentoring partnership where both parties teach and learn.