Recently, I noticed I was having the same conversation with a number of friends and colleagues – “How can I be a mentor? I’m not a small business owner, so what could I even bring to the table?”
The answer is: A LOT.
Each of us brings something important to the table, and your specific skillset might include exactly w
here an aspiring entrepreneur needs guidance. If you’ve ever considered being a mentor (or have been asked by someone at Pathway), continue reading to find out what makes a good mentor – regardless of job titles or business ownership, you may be the perfect fit for the role!
Is My Experience Useful?
While there are four main areas mentees like to tap into (Marketing/Sales, Finance/Accounting, Human Resources, and Legal), most basic business functions are useful. Think deeply about your own personal work experience. Knowledge of topics like data analytics, strategic planning, project management & implementation or in depth experience with certain technology platforms like Salesforce will make you a good mentor.
But I’ve Never Started a Business!
Just because you’re not an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you can’t think like one. Creating new programs, products, or services, or just managing a workgroup in a larger enterprise can give you skills a new entrepreneur would benefit from.
What Other Attributes Make a Good Mentor?
Here’s my top four:
- Be Curious: Be willing to listen and have an open mind.
- Be Genuinely Interested: Be attentive to their personal and professional success.
- Be an Honest Coach: Spend time on the basics in your area of expertise. Help them develop their talents.
- Be Communicative: Be available, motivational, and kind with your feedback.
How About Problem Areas for a Mentor?
If you struggle with control issues or believe your advice is the right advice, you might not be a great mentor! As a mentor it’s not about a strict adherence to your processes and suggestions. The mentee needs to own the process and what they do with the feedback they receive. Be flexible and think about the aspects of your experience that could apply to their industry, stage in business, or leadership style. While you’re part of a team, it’s the mentee that needs to be forging their own path to success.
One final note: After a year of saying no to being a mentor, I finally said yes and joined an Ignite 360 team at Pathway WBC. I’m halfway through the process and have found it to be very engaging. I now know that my skills can be put to good use – and I’m planning to volunteer as a mentor in future rounds.
I hope you’ll join me. After all, it is National Mentoring Month…
January marks the celebration of National Mentoring Month!
National Mentoring Month was created in 2002 by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and Harvard School of Public Health with support from the Highland Street Foundation, National Mentoring Month is all about driving systemic change to make mentoring an integral component of youth and workforce development efforts.
Special thanks to Karen Miranda, a super mentor, for helping brainstorm this list.