If you’ve ever mentored an entrepreneur, you’ve no doubt experienced the highs and lows and everything in between. As an adviser, you ride the roller coaster of business creation with your mentee, perhaps recalling your own struggles and successes along the way.
The challenges can be common, or they can sneak up on you with little warning. Recognizing the personal skills needed to combat these struggles makes you a better prepared and more effective mentor.
Above all, a good mentor possesses patience — sometimes, boatloads of patience. Plan on spending more time reaching goals than you and your mentee have agreed upon, simply because your mentee is juggling a number of balls at once. He or she may still be employed while trying to launch a business, or may be tied up with all that launching a business requires. Have patience with your mentee, and yourself. Remember the time it took to reach goals for your business and how that paid off in the long run.
Empathy, humility and a genuine desire to help others rank among the most salient characteristics of an effective mentor. A good listener who asks pertinent questions and formulates solid answers is someone on whom a mentee can rely.
One of the most important lessons to learn as a mentor is that no matter how awesome a piece of advice appears to be, your mentee may not accept it. How easy it would be to take it personally or hope for an opportunity to say “I told you so.” Instead, consider this a teachable moment for you and your mentee.
If you’re considering becoming a business mentor, don’t let the challenges dissuade you. The rewards overshadow the difficulties. A mentor gets satisfaction knowing he or she has helped another person reach success. Your business expertise makes for a great learning experience; the hands-on knowledge you share helps the mentee visualize his or her own goals.
As a mentor, you’re bound to learn new things about business, technology, marketing, etc., and that is knowledge you will be able to share down the road. As you work with others, you’ll notice the benefits mentoring plays in your personal well-being. Perhaps the best feeling of all is when you realize that your services as a mentor are no longer needed because your mentee has reached the goals you set together. Mentors often become long-time friends with their mentees, so there’s a good chance you’ll be keeping in touch well after you’ve had your last business meeting.