What is entrepreneur mentoring?
Entrepreneur mentoring is an open, supportive, one-on-one relationship rooted in mutual trust and respect. Through it, veteran entrepreneurs can share their experience with mentees to help them fine-tune the soft skills they need to get ahead in the business world. Not only does mentoring foster mentees’ entrepreneurial development, it gives them a broader sense of perspective so they can assess their options with greater clarity and make more insightful decisions.
The business of being an entrepreneur
Mentorship is about focusing on the human being at the head of a company. Mentored entrepreneurs can concentrate on acquiring the soft skills they need to excel. The mentor-mentee relationship is strictly confidential and free of any judgment or conflicts of interest – the ideal conditions to grow and thrive. The Réseau Mentorat framework is underpinned by a code of ethics, a confidentiality agreement, operating rules and learning tools designed to facilitate the entrepreneur mentoring process every step of the way.
It is important to distinguish between what a mentor brings to the table and the roles played by other similar stakeholders.
Who are our mentors?
Our mentors are accomplished entrepreneurs who have “been there.” They are accredited through the Réseau M program and volunteer their mentoring services on a regular basis for up to two years. They come from all sectors and walks of life and work with business owners at any stage (startup, development, growth/export, takeover/transfer of ownership). Réseau Mentorat also has mentors from a social or cooperative entrepreneurship background who have been specially trained to work with up-and-coming entrepreneurs in this sector.
“It’s a common dilemma for entrepreneurs: our heads are constantly swimming with ideas. Every time I see my mentor, he zeroes in on the questions I don’t want to ask – but really should. His input has helped me become a stronger, more assertive person.”
Isabelle Limoges, entrepreneur and Réseau Mentorat mentee.
The difference between a mentor, a coach, a consultant and an advisor
Advising, coaching, consulting and mentoring are terms that are often used interchangeably, but there are some fundamental differences between them:
Generally speaking, advisors, coaches and consultants focus on knowledge and know-how. They are experts in a given field and are paid to achieve or facilitate a mandate or particular goals for a business, with a view to attaining shorter-term results.
Through Réseau Mentorat, mentored entrepreneurs can tap into the insight and experience of a seasoned business professional to get a better handle on the situations they are faced with and sharpen their entrepreneurial acumen. Mentors share what they have learned over time and provide food for thought to guide mentees in the decision-making process and make informed choices. With each successive interaction, mentors cement their role as a respected confidant, thus empowering their mentees to withstand the challenges before them.
What mentors do:
- Help mentees escape the isolation common to many entrepreneurs
- Listen and ask questions
- Prompt mentees to see problems from a different angle
- Identify possible solutions
- Are a source of encouragement and motivation
- Provide a critical perspective
- Give feedback on mentees’ overall outlooks and attitudes
- Supply real-world examples drawn from their own experience
- Adhere to a strict code of confidentiality
What mentors don’t do:
- Assist mentees in managing their business
- Serve as a consultant or expert advisor in production, marketing, distribution, accounting or any other field, or provide customized management solutions, advice or recommendations
- Tell mentees what to do (be it through a business action plan or a set mentoring “curriculum”)
- Establish a business relationship with mentees as a client, supplier or partner
- Refer mentees within their own networks
- Receive compensation for their services (the mentor is a volonteer but accessing the Reseau Mentorat mentoring network requires a paid subscription)