Mentoring: essential to validate, enable and leverage your business
Since 2010, after the sale of my second IT Solutions Development company, I have dedicated myself to strengthening my knowledge about people, business and technology, mainly in innovation and digital strategies. I worked and I work as a consultant, I wrote more than 80 articles on my blog and participated in three books. I have been giving lectures at companies, events and universities, but what I like to do most is to act with my heart and mind as a business mentor, which I have already done in several programs focused on startups, in addition to individually serving many entrepreneurs of startups in several evolution stages and company managers.
I like business mentoring, because as the name says, it focuses on business. Unlike coaching that has the noble function of working the professional in their talents and competencies, or consulting that provides solutions to major business issues using best practices in addition to the consultant’s knowledge and experience, where some professional gets his hands dirty for help implement the solution.
The role of the business mentor and the mentoring sessions
In my view, the mentor’s focus during sessions should be to deliver value to the mentee. This is done based on questions that use the knowledge and experience and techniques of the mentor, which cause reflections to the mentee, instead of just guessing. Throughout this work, the mentor identifies key points for business improvement and, in agreement with the mentee, provides specific courses of action to be carried out according to the context, environment, conditions and business model in question. Even if in the first session the entrepreneur obtains insigths and the first courses of action, the ideal is to continue this work, so that the process generates effective results for the business in question.
Some mentors are experts having great experience in business, as they are or have been partner-owners — with a broader view but in their sector, or managers of a certain area — with a more vertical view, such as finance, marketing, sales, production, logistics, etc.
It is important that before the first session, both mentor and mentee exchange some information about their professional profiles and the business.
It is up to the mentor to be empathetic, trustworthy, confidential and authentic. You must listen well first, questioning in a Socratic way, and when asked, answer directly, with an optimistic look, trying to separate opinions from facts. You must challenge and provoke, but without demotivating or destroying, guiding without controlling, knowing how to say “I don’t know”, when you don’t know. Make key notes during sessions.
Another strength of the mentor is its relationship network, with other mentors who have experience in a specific function of the company or market sector, investors, suppliers, possible customers, in addition to their knowledge of methods, techniques and tools appropriate for use by startups or companies if applicable.
Regarding the capture of value by the mentor, in addition to learning from the sessions themselves, the form of payment or not, must be agreed in advance with the mentee. Some act as a mentor only for the pleasure of contributing to the innovation ecosystem, others just investigate and do not charge, because among their interests: they want to provide consulting services or become business investors. Others look for partnership or just management, others want to be part of the board and others have a small participation (%) in the quotas — with the dedication of part of their time in the continuous support to the business.
I could go deep into the subject, but I believe that the essence was presented. Still, I am available to clarify any doubts in the comments of this post.
If you liked it, please share! Regards, @neigrando