The experienced helps the beginner: Mentoring and Entrepreneurship
Being an entrepreneur is a challenge. New ventures are always accompanied by difficult decisions, to which young and new entrepreneurs may not have the answers or the experience to at least make an informed choice.
In a world characterized by the incalculable abundance of information and data, they can rely on reports, documents, market studies, business manuals, etc. that will surely help them overcome some of these difficulties.
However, only a business mentor can truly share his or her knowledge with young entrepreneurs in a way that can have a direct and positive impact on sustainable business growth over time.
How can a mentor help?
One of the key benefits of the mentor-mentee relationship is the advice of a more experienced part. Because they are experienced, mentors can also provide context and perspectives that have not been previously considered. And also because they have been developing their activities for many years, mentors rely on valuable network of contacts in the business world.
However, from my point of view, the central role of the mentor should be to motivate. Making mistakes is inevitable for somebody who is brave enough to start a new business. Failure is inherent to entrepreneurship. Still, in order to be strong enough to overcome mistakes and continue pursuing the defined goals, entrepreneurs must also be highly motivated and believe in their work.
And they will never be truly motivated and will never have the enough strength to overcome adversity if they do not believe in themselves.
I defend these ideas as person who has learned a lot by failing. I often say that I do a master’s degree every time I fail. Throughout my life I have faced many adversities. However, they never stopped me from believing in myself, in my projects and in my ability to carry them out successfully.
In this sense, mentors, through their specific and concrete experiences, can act as great motivators, explaining entrepreneurs that failing is the norm and that the only way to achieve success is to persist, insist, err, learn and insist once again.
The mentor also learns
There is, of course, a disinterested element in mentoring. However, it is not just a one-sided process. Being the mentor of a promising entrepreneur is a great way to give back to the community and society in general. And this retribution is one of the main reasons that have led me personally, for example, to implement a set of social and support initiatives for strengthening Mozambique’s business fabric.
Cutting-edge initiatives and latest trends
But when it comes to supporting and contributing to the progress of others, the mentor also has the tremendous opportunity to continue learning. First, young entrepreneurs are always working with cutting-edge initiatives and leading the latest trends. Any mentor who has the chance to support them necessarily gets first-hand insights into the latest innovations, helping them to avoid rusting.
One of the biggest threats to a “successful” entrepreneur is inertia: believing that you have reached the top and that there is no my space to continue moving ahead. In this sense, participating in the MOZEFO Young Leaders, for example, and hearing many of our young people share their experiences, aspirations, initiatives and ideas also helped me rethink my own business and devise new mechanisms to better support future generations of Mozambican entrepreneurs.
Network of contacts
In addition, by supporting and helping new businesses thrive, mentors create close connections with the future generation of business leaders, expanding their own network of contacts. Many of the young entrepreneurs of today will be the great business people of tomorrow, of Mozambique and of the African continent. Having their contact information and a close relation with them is a big privilege. Still potential, but privilege in the end.
Finally, mentoring helps the mentor improving her leadership skills. Anyone who runs a business is already a mentor and a leader. But by supporting others, the mentor learns how to reveal the best in others, to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, to be diplomatic and, at the same time, to obtain results, to give good advice and to be supportive.
Mentoring: an opportunity that will benefit everyone
The mentee will surely benefit from this kind of support and her business will greatly improve, but with better leadership capabilities, the mentor can also learn how to organize his or her own business in a more efficient and humane way. Mozambique and Africa’s business fabric has improved greatly in the last couple of years but there is still plenty of room for more improvement. Enhancing our business climate will be essential to ensure a prosperous future for next generations. We, the entrepreneurs who have managed to consolidate our businesses, have a great responsibility in this regard. But we must think of this process as an opportunity that will benefit everyone.