Many inexperienced entrepreneurs have great qualities like intelligence, talent, drive, and ambition, yet there is much to gain from the help of an older, wiser business guru. If you possess the skills and experience that would benefit a young entrepreneur, consider taking on a mentee. Not sure if you have what it takes? The typical small business mentor possesses some pretty straightforward traits:
" A sincere desire to be involved with a younger person
" Active listener
" Ability to empathize
" See solutions and opportunities
" Be flexible and open
Mentoring isn't only valuable to the protégé"the mentor gains from the interaction as well. You will be making a difference in someone's life, learning about yourself, giving back to the community that helped foster your own success, and having fun!
Before approaching the person you have in mind, go over what your experience, insight, and advice can offer him or her"these are your strengths. When you sit down with that person, you will discuss how you would like to help and how your strengths will contribute to his or her success. Be very clear regarding what your function will be, what your mentee's expectations are, and how you plan to help him or her reach their goals. From here, you can create a timeline together. Establish boundaries and make sure you know what you are not"this person does not need another parent, spouse, or boss. Always keep the lines of communication open, yet know when to give advice and when to allow your mentee to find answers on his or her own.
When you're dealing with the professional success of another human being, mentoring can be a serious undertaking. That's why this decision shouldn't be taken lightly. The people that are most successful at mentoring are those that know without a doubt that this is something they were born to do and will not take failure for an answer (sounds like most entrepreneurs!). A mentorship can be a relatively long-term commitment ranging from a few months to a year or more. If you find you don't have the time and/or energy to devote to a mentorship, it's okay to admit it and opt out.