The Joy of being a Business Mentor
By FemPowerFinance on December 08, 2011
(Photo credit: Empowered Bookkeeping, Flickr)
I recently had the privilege of being invited to speak on a panel hosted by Women's Economic Ventures, a Southern California based non-profit organization which I've been involved with in various capacities for the past couple of years and whom I'm very proud to support. The audience was comprised of women who are in "pre-entrepreneurship" mode, meaning they're currently assessing their business ideas, skills, and resources in order to determine whether entrepreneurship is the right path for them to pursue as a next step in life.
During the course of the evening my co-panelists and I pulled from direct real-world examples from our respective entrepreneurial journeys and shared these insights with the audience members based on our individual area of expertise. After the direct Q&A from the panel moderator, the floor was opened up to general Q&A from the audience. Not surprisingly, the audience members were extremely astute and it was really a pleasure to respond to their very well thought out questions.
The evening ended and I, along with the other panelists, said our good-byes and left. Given that these types of events are highly enjoyable for me, I drove home feeling very fulfilled by virtue of the opportunity to be of service to future entrepreneurs in such a meaningful way.
The good feelings didn't end there - approximately a week after I participated in the panel discussion, several of the audience members sent me emails thanking me for my time and sharing their impressions regarding some of my insights/tips/ideas, etc. which have resonated with them. The other day as I was going through my office snail mail, I received a thank you note which was signed by several of the audience members along with personal notes expressing their gratitude under their signatures. Of course, this note was the best piece of snail mail which I had received all month and it totally made my day!
So why am I writing about this and why should you care? Well, there are actually many reasons, but here are the top three in my opinion:
- If you're an established entrepreneur or business owner, you might want to explore the possibility of carving out some time in your busy schedule to mentor other existing or would-be entrepreneurs. There are well-publicized statistics indicating the tremendous increase in entrepreneurship in the US in the past 2+ years since the recession. There are ample opportunities for established and seasoned business owners to share their expertise with those who are just starting to go down that path. Your advice and insights will be highly valued and it will be one of, if not the most rewarding experience of your life - I highly recommend it.
- On the flip side, if you're a budding (female) entrepreneur, I wholeheartedly encourage you to seek out mentors for your business. Ideally they would be in the same industry as you're seeking to establish yourself but they don't necessarily have to be. Get out there and don't be afraid to ask for help. You never know until you try but make it a point of your business strategy to surround yourself with strong advisers and mentors who can either be of direct assistance to you or who may have someone in their network who can. Give it a try - be kind and respectful but go for it.
- As the numbers of entrepreneurs increase in our society, we need to have more organizations such as Women's Economic Ventures. The work that they to do educate, inspire and in many cases, help (women) entrepreneurs seek funding is priceless, both for the entrepreneurs as well as for those of us who benefit from the goods and services produced by those entrepreneurs. They are the vital link between the new entrepreneur just starting out and the experienced and seasoned entrepreneur who has a wealth of wisdom, experience and advice to share.
My own personal experience with mentorship of other entrepreneurs/business owners has been an incredibly positive and fulfilling one. We each face challenges in our daily lives and once you commit to becoming an entrepreneur, you essentially sign up for embracing challenge on a daily, if not hourly basis. If you've been down that road and have been lucky enough to make it, then there is nothing more rewarding than to know that you're making a difference in the life of another person by extending a helping hand to continue that chain of positive influence past yourself.
After all, none of us got to be where we are without the help of others and so in my humble opinion, it is a duty and a privilege to do the same for others.
(Photo credit: Empowered Bookkeeping, Flickr)
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