Earlier this week I spent a day working along with a bunch of seasoned entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs educators in trying to design a program to mentor several women entrepreneurs. The day was intellectually stimulating and exhilarating. It was equally a day of unlearning as much as it was a day of learning. I learned a lot of things.
Among the many questions that were deliberated the question of ‘Who should mentor entrepreneurs?’ had the usual heated debate. There were many views to this and many schools of thoughts were also shared. But in the end I found that most of the members in the committee agreed on a very narrow set of qualities for a potential mentor. This was one big reiteration of my understanding. A mentor who wishes to help entrepreneurs grow must have at least these three basic qualities:
- They must have done some sales and marketing in their life
- They must have been responsible for a P/L Statement however small or big
- They must not answer any questions for the entrepreneur but only ask questions that entrepreneurs can answer by themselves
So if you don’t have these three qualities attempt to gain it. Do it directly by becoming an entrepreneur or by working in a small business. There were many other qualities that were discussed but these three seemed to gain approval from everyone in the room.
As I prepare myself to conduct a two day workshop for educators / professionals who want to become mentors I plan to keep these fundamental qualities and share it with them. Please do share your thoughts, learning and experiences of who makes a good mentor so that we may all learn about this role and play it better.