How a mentorship program can improve your business

Growth and strategy

16 October 2017

National Mentoring Day, which takes place on 27 October, is a chance to celebrate the positive effect that mentoring can have on entrepreneurs and established businesses.

Here we look at the benefits mentorship can have on your career – as mentor or mentee.

What is mentoring?

A mentor is an experienced person who takes someone under their wing who is at an earlier point in their career. This is a private relationship, and is focused on personal development. Mentors can help their mentees to focus on their long-term business goals, offering encouragement when needed and suggestions for the correct path. Mentors aren't able to give specific advice or take on work for you, and act more as a teacher than a life coach.

There's a demand for mentoring among SMEs, with a government research paper finding that 34% of small business owners had searched for this type of guidance in the year 2012-2013.

Becoming a mentor: the benefits

Once your business is established, becoming a mentor is an opportunity to give back to the community by providing aspiring entrepreneurs with a helping hand. You might not feel that you have much to offer, but everything that you've learned during your time in business is valuable to those just starting out.

Having a mentee can help you to develop your leadership and communication skills, and will give you confidence as you see how much you've achieved.

Knowledge flows both ways, and your mentee's questions will challenge and inspire you too. They bring something new to the table, and their unique perspective may help you and your business in return. By mentoring new business people, you're sculpting the future of your industry (and creating a strong future ally).

Finding a mentor: the benefits

Launching a small business can be daunting, but you don't have to go through it alone. Every British business owner has charted these waters before you, and has real-world advice to offer. Whether you are worried about finding your first clients, filing a tax return or developing a new niche, a mentor can save you time and energy by sharing their experiences and the lessons they've learned.

A good mentor will listen to your ideas, and offer guidance (although they won't be able to provide specific business-based advice). Any entrepreneur will have experienced their own set backs, and you can benefit from their lessons learnt without the pain of going through it yourself.

A mentor can also be a valuable outlet for the hopes, fears and worries that your non-entrepreneur friends may not understand.

Although they're not a counsellor, having someone who understands the unique challenges of starting a business is essential at the start.