The mentorship advantage

She Hive Accra

Sugar. Spice. And everything nice.

What do you need to be a successful entrepreneur? More than it takes to make the Powerpuff Girls. Some say passion, commitment, and willpower are top of the list —all very true. I believe to be a successful entrepreneur you need a viable business model and a good mentor.

What is the role of a mentor?

One of my favorite books on this topic is, “Expect to win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace” by Carla A. Harris. She defines a mentor as “someone you rely upon to give you good, tailored developmental advice”.

According to Futurpreneur Canada, the advantages of having a mentor are described in six points.

A mentor helps you:

  • Gain insights and perspective by having someone to bounce your ideas off of
  • Focus on and strategically work towards your business vision
  • Shorten your learning curve
  • Identify opportunities and risk by learning with someone experienced
  • Grow and enhance your business network and acumen
  • Build confidence knowing you have someone in your corner

Key traits of mentors

As I write this, I think of all my mentors and the two key traits they all share:

  • Expertise and integrity: Find a mentor you believe to be brilliant, knowledgeable and trust worthy. You want your mentor to be someone you will listen to because you trust their expertise
  • Genuine interest in my development: This is what I call the mentor/mentee chemistry. Choose a mentor who is genuinely interested in who you are, understands your strengths and weakness and wants to help you develop and grow. Mentorship is a deep and personal relationship and for the relationship to be truly useful, you both must feel safe sharing the “good, bad and ugly”

How to be a good mentee

Having discussed the importance of mentorship and what to look for in a mentor, how do you become a good mentee?

  • Listen
  • Consider the advice you get and apply when relevant (This is why your mentor has to be someone you can trust)
  • Set SMART goals and hold yourself accountable
  • Ask for feedback and provide feedback in return
  • Be honest and communicate openly with your mentor
  • Invest time and effort in your relationship
  • Most importantly, as a mentee, remember to pay it forward

Peer mentorship is a form of mentorship that is often neglected but I find very valuable especially in my professional and business life. Keep in mind; your mentor must have some expertise and be genuinely interested in who you are and your development from a point of low self-interest. Many times, you can find these qualities in a peer.

To my mentors:

Thank you for teaching me to be positive and fiercely myself. Reminding me I have all I need, to be who I want to be—a healthy mind and body. Thank you for demanding I think big. Because, why the heck not.

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