Giovanna Minenna is the Founder and CEO of three Winnipeg businesses: Futurpreneur-supported Brows by G Inc., Browluxe Inc. and Giovanna Minenna Life and Business Coaching. She’s a public speaker, hosts motivational workshops, loves nature, sustainability and helping people reach their wildest dreams.
Passionate about helping people in both their personal and business lives, Giovanna shares her insights on how she, as a mentee-turned-mentor, has found the value and importance of mentorship in cultivating the best versions of ourselves as people and as business owners.
When I started Brows by G in 2015, I believed that asking anyone else for help was a sign of incompetence, even weakness. As a young, female business owner, I felt like I had to prove myself at every step and that I had to have the right answer to everything. As you would expect with that thinking, in my first few years of building and running the company I made a huge number of mistakes.
As entrepreneurs, some mistakes are necessary for us to learn the hard lessons and gain experience, but many can be avoided by knowing how to ask, when to ask, and who to ask. That is the incredible value of mentorship. Growing a business is all about being able to avoid pitfalls and mistakes to get where we want to go faster and more effectively.
Mentorship has been incredibly valuable in my business journey. As a receiver of mentorship, I have benefitted greatly from learning from amazing and experienced people. I’ve also had real, honest, and sometimes tough feedback. As a mentor, I have accelerated other people’s learning and career growth just by investing time and insight, which has been incredibly gratifying.
Here are some common questions that are asked by individuals considering a mentorship relationship.
1. For their experience
Mentors all have their own areas of expertise and experience. They are also able to provide perspective and an unbiased opinion. For me, they have been invaluable in identifying problems that weren’t obvious to me or my team.
When I first started with my mentor, they were also able to identify areas of weakness in terms of employee contracts, the need to develop a marketing plan and areas of our website that needed improvement. Making these small changes made a huge impact on our company later on.
They were also great to talk to about how to approach difficult employees and clients for the best outcome. The connections and introductions they provided were also so valuable and essential to the growth of my business.
2. As a sounding board
A mentor acts as a great sounding board when facing problems within your company. The idea that starting a business is consistently fun, exciting and invigorating is sadly one that is not true! In fact, depression is a challenge that exists throughout the world of entrepreneurship. Having someone who you can turn to for advice when things get tough can prevent entrepreneurs from feeling lonely, lost or deflated.
3. For personal development
Having a mentor can help your personal level of development. Their experience and understanding can help shape you as an individual and help you realize what it is that drives you to push forward with what you’re building. Not only that, but they can also help prevent you from making the same mistakes they did when facing a similar problem.
When I first began my business, and still to this day, my biggest fear is failure – fear that my company won’t work, that nobody will walk through my doors, that I won’t be able to make enough money to pay my bills.
When you start a company, everything is on the line and to most people their number one concern is the public aspect. You don’t want people to think of you as a failure. However, fear is just your pride. You can’t worry about what other people sitting on the sidelines will think if you fail.
A challenge for me was that I didn’t have the support of people around me. Some of my family members, friends, and peers didn’t truly support me, because they didn’t understand what I was doing. Consciously or unconsciously, some people will also cheer for you to fail.
My biggest lesson was letting go of what other people think and doing what was and is best for me.
My mentors helped me see that it doesn’t matter in the end what they think because it doesn’t directly affect me. The people who do not support me or are cheering for me to fail are not my customers; they are not supporting me and they are not who I want to do business with – so their opinions hold zero value!
Good mentor relationships are a two-way street – you get as much out of mentorship as you put in. It is important in the beginning to create an alliance so you can best determine how to show up for one another and get the most out of your meetings. A good mentor will hold space for you to discover yourself, grow, and access the inner knowledge you already have. To be mentored, show up prepared by either having an agenda, specific questions and asking for honest feedback.
The most important aspect is that you are looking to build a relationship. The easiest way to do this is to send a follow-up email with a progress report on how the meeting impacted you after it ends and thank one another. This will make both parties feel as if their time was actually worth spending.
I firmly believe that mentorship is the best path to career success, hands down. The benefits that you can gain from a good mentor relationship can outweigh school, hard work, natural talent and luck!
The one important lesson I learned about mentoring is that you need to find the right fit. If you are not a good fit it is important to seek out someone you can be open to and have a connection with.
There is so much to learn from others! Try to mentor others if you can, a lot is given back to you if you do. You will learn as much from the person you are mentoring as that person will learn from you.
If I could give young professionals and entrepreneurs one piece of advice, it would be to go out and ask someone to mentor them. Mentors aren’t going to go out of their way to find someone and bring them along if they don’t show initiative. Mentorship is something that requires strong commitment from both parties, and takes a lot of effort. The end results, however, are more than worth it. I can personally attest to the fact that the lessons, connections, and opportunities that mentors provide are invaluable. It’s up to you, however, to ask and take advantage of what mentors can offer.
Having time to reflect and appreciate the commitment of a mentorship relationship is very important. Taking time to understand what was most rewarding, what you found the most valuable and what are you most grateful for in mentorship will help to better enhance your personal and professional life.
I am so grateful for the mentors who have come into my life, both through Futurpreneur and the people in my community, and I have a strong appreciation for the time and knowledge they have passed on to me.
I now understand that success can’t be achieved alone. I can’t wait to continue passing on what I have learned to those around me and watch others succeed!