Sophie - Mentor - Article

Mireille Demers has been a mentor with Futurpreneur since 2004. With ten mentoring relationships under her belt, including four at the moment, she has always remained available to support young people in her region. We wanted to learn what motivates her exceptional commitment to young entrepreneurs and she was generous enough to offer complete transparency by revealing the five reasons for her outstanding commitment.

Mentoring to transfer knowledge

Mireille studied in economics and worked at Raymond Chabot International, at BDC and as a political economist prior to launching her own business as a consultant. Now retired, what she speaks about most enthusiastically regarding her career path are all the opportunities she has to transmit her knowledge and share the fruit of her experience, whether it was teaching international business, or as a volunteer on Boards of Directors. So mentoring seemed like a natural way for her to transmit that information, allowing her to share the knowledge she acquired over the years with the greatest number of people.

Mentoring to raise awareness about financial management

During a decade of mentoring, Mireille regularly noticed those infamous gaps in financial literacy which prevents entrepreneurs from making financial decisions, due to a lack of knowledge, skills, or self-confidence. “Young entrepreneurs are often stuck in the day-to-day management of the company and they lose sight of the big picture, especially the financial aspects,” she explains. “Cash flow isn’t just some numbers to leave to the accountant, the company’s survival depends on it!”

Her strength and her greatest pride as a mentor is to quietly provide another way of looking at things. Her ability to sensitize and clarify notions of financial management allowed her to convert many entrepreneurs who were skeptical at first about the benefits of mentoring. And what greater reward for a mentor then to realize that her entrepreneurs became more autonomous, thanks to the knowledge she transmitted during the two years of the mentorship?

Mentoring to stay active

Mireille devoted more and more of herself to mentoring at the time of her retirement. She is quick to admit it that being a mentor is a way to stay linked to the energy of the working population, and to team up with young, passionate people who believe that everything is possible.

Mentoring to contribute to community development

Small and medium size businesses create 90% of jobs and form the base layer of our economy. Mireille would like to give a helping hand so as to indirectly contribute to local economic expansion. That’s one of her criteria when selecting mentees, they must live in the same city as she does.

Moreover, mentoring is just one of the ways Mireille contributes to the development of her community. When she’s not meeting with mentees, Mireille is probably sitting on the municipal transit committee for St. Jean-sur-Richelieu!

Mentoring for self-improvement

Mentoring entrepreneurs, requires you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, so you can understand where they’re coming from and how they see their company’s growth. It’s an exercise that allows mentors to develop their personal skills. She admits this came fairly easily to her, as her experience as a consultant has allowed her to learn how to adapt to different sectors and personalities with each mandate.

Beyond new personal skills, being a mentor also allows you to acquire new knowledge and expand your horizons. For Mireille, learning about sectors that she wasn’t familiar with—like baking, driving schools, or interior decoration—is not an obstacle when starting a mentorship with a young person, it’s an incentive!

Mireille believes, correctly, that she is not there to offer expertise in a sector, but rather her to share her management experience and, in particular, financial management. Management principles are transferable from one industry to another. For supplier payment terms and industry standards, it’s up to entrepreneurs to do their homework. The mentor plays a coaching role. So she has, almost exclusively, mentored B2C entrepreneurs—although she specialized in B2B throughout her career.

Mireille’s experience is a great demonstration of how mentoring can become an exhilarating adventure because it enriches mentors personally and professionally. Hats off to Mireille and all mentors who choose to grow beside entrepreneurs!

Written By: Sophie Dudot, Business Development Manager, Futurpreneur Canada

Get up to $60,000
in financial support,
and the support of one
of our 3,000 mentors.

Learn More →