Ellis Orlan, BA, CPA, SF Partnership LLP, eorlan@sfgroup.ca, Toronto, ON, CYBF Mentor

Mentoring is an invaluable experience for both the mentor and mentee.

A mentor is someone with more entrepreneurial business experience then the mentee, who serves as a trusted advisor and confidante over an extended period of time, typically free of charge. For the mentor, it is an opportunity to ‘give back’ to the community and to society at large for assistance received in the past, to construct sustainable connections and to be an integral part of the growth of the mentee.

The business mentor provides wisdom, insight and nurturing on a continually evolving scope of challenges and issues. An issue with ‘top line’ one week can turn into a ‘bottom line’ issue the next, followed by an employee issue after that. A mentor provides expertise and experience related to successes and failures. He/she helps a mentee see that failure is an integral part of the growth process and will ultimately lead to better decisions.

Mentors have a vested interest in the success of their mentees. The mentor is a combination of a shoulder to cry on, the mentee’s biggest supporter and the ‘kick-in-the pants’ when required. The mentor also provides a Rolodex, a door opener and cup of coffee after a mentee’s sleepless night. The sign of an effective mentoring relationship is if the mentor encourages their mentee’s goals, provides honest and constructive feedback, helps the mentee develop self-awareness, challenges them to grow beyond their perceived limitations and above all, listens to them and is easy to communicate with.

It is clear that the benefits of working with a mentor are tangible and endless. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by finding a good mentor. That’s why every entrepreneur should have one.

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