Mentorship makes a difference: support of an experienced peer can impact the bottom line

Hailey Coleman, Damn Heels Inc. and Raymond Wali – CYBF Mentor, President & Creative Strategy Officer at Mango Moose Media. Photo by Della Rollins.

When you picture a mentor what image pops into your head? For many people the image is someone in their 50s or 60s who has been in a particular industry for decades or who is retired or semi-retired and still enjoys teaching. There are, however, many faces of mentoring.

Today, young and emerging entrepreneurs are not only starting and expanding their own businesses, they are knowledge-sharing with their peers and even becoming mentors to those who once guided their own decisions for the future. Many young entrepreneurs enjoy the personal growth they experience from being both mentee and mentor; with those roles becoming less of a hard line in the sand through the abundance of resources and tools now available at our fingertips.

Linda Morana, Mentor-in-Residence at the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, sees the impact mentoring relationships have on both mentors and young entrepreneurs. “They appreciate the unique and valuable perspectives they receive from one another – it is not a one-sided process that only benefits the entrepreneur,” explains Linda. “We’ve received great feedback at events where we included reverse-mentoring because it involves more of an equal exchange: mentors coach entrepreneurs through a business challenge and vice-versa. It’s also a social and an idea generation exchange as much as a business interchange.”

Studies have indicated that young mentees seem to receive similar styles of mentoring regardless of mentor age, but as the mentee age increases, they report more career and psychological mentoring from younger rather than from older mentors.*

Morana points out that the traditional idea of a mentor has been changing to also include young business owners—and why not? Their knowledge and experiences are valuable resources that perhaps aren’t being tapped. Regardless of age, having a mentor, she says, is a great source of education and motivation for those looking to start or even expand a business. It is important to be open to learning from all professionals and to think about your own unique experiences and how they could help guide others on their path to success.

* Source: An Examination of the Role of Age in Mentoring Relationships Group & Organization Management June 2003 28: 249281

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