Let me get this point straight out to you.
Mentoring in the business context is not an act of charity or blatant self-promotion. It has a structure where the mentor may even start by signing a Non-disclosure Agreement drawn out by the mentee to safeguard the confidentiality of what is being shared during the mentoring process.
In most cases, the mentor has a deep interest in helping to launch this new product or service that has been created by the start-up. Since there is no formal transfer of funding, the term mentor will suffice. However, the relationship may deepen whereby the mentor becomes an Angel Investor and invests a private sum without the expectation that there be a formal business structure. The next step will see the possible appearance of Venture Capitalists who have the propensity to see the promising start-up go the way of an Initial Public Offering (IPO).
Here are some reasons of why mentoring is entrepreneurial:
Mentoring Is Risky
Offering practical advice to a growing start-up is risky because the business environment is dynamic and ever-changing. You may risk developing a bad reputation if your advice is seen as too simplistic and unrealistic. Your corporate branding may take a hit and you have to expend more time in trying to rebuild it back.
Mentoring Requires Foresight
When you offer mentoring advice, you are expected to provide a clear and quite accurate of the relevant industry. This can be quite stressful because your mentee can easily Google free market research by expert consulting firms. Thus you may be expected to highlight different scenarios and then rate each one with the probability of success respectively. In actual fact is that only having one view of the future may not be sufficient to have a mentoring relationship.
Mentoring Needs Active Listening
Successful entrepreneurs do not just hole themselves in dusty garages to create the next best machine or killer app. They must also be active listeners of how their potential customers see their product or services. The reason is obvious because these potential customers are going to pay through their hard-earned money.
Along the same way, the mentor has to listen, without prejudice, what the start-up wants to share and ask. The mentor’s answers have to be provided objectively even if it may sound negative.
Mentoring Can Be Time-Consuming
Even with the variety of communication tools and social media, mentoring can be taxing and time-consuming. The mentor has to gain the respect and trust of the mentee right from the very start in order to create a Gantt Chart. This will ensure that there is accountability and clear direction in the mentoring process. It is definitely a positive development where the mentoring relationship does not just turn into just a meeting of ranting and raving about how the business journey is deemed too difficult. Productive mentoring is not merely to motivate and console but to gently push the start-up to achieve success.
Mentoring Changes Lives
Being a mentor myself, I can vouch that mentoring does change the perspectives of both the mentor and mentee. There are always ups and downs in a professional mentoring journey. The mentor will learn about how much knowledge he has stored in his mind and will feel blessed to be able to use it. On the other hand, the mentee will feel like he has hit the jackpot because the mentor provides constructive and relevant advice in order for him to achieve what he has set out to do at the beginning of his business journey.
I hope that this article shows you that there is little that separates the mentor and entrepreneur.