Mentoring, more than just instruction.
Mentoring is one of the most impactful support tools for businesses in their infancy as well as during their growth stages, yet it remains a much overlooked resource. So what is mentoring? For some, there is a negative preconception of a teacher figure who will attempt to assume knowledge about the intricacies of your business, criticising what has been done, before instructing what's to happen next. For others, the idea of a mentor is somebody having all the answers to your business questions and handing over a take-away plan to implement them. These biases stem from definitions of mentoring similar to the one below
"Mentorship is a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentorship
The level of experience held by the more knowledgable/experienced person is always assumed to be much greater than is actually required, because even one tiny step ahead or even sideways creates knowledge and new learnings to your own. When you think about it in this context, you are suddenly faced with a list of people that could provide mentorship, sometimes even unknowingly and a simple action of opening up dialogue between your acquaintances in the business community can provide a host of solutions at your disposal. Starting up can be a lonely place and you don't always consider the impact of the role your peers previously played in providing support and knowledge.
"True mentoring is more than just answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help. It is about an ongoing relationship of learning, dialog, and challenge."
In effect you need to recreate that network of peers which takes time, but at the end you will have a community of people selected by you, who share your life goals and ambitions and are willing to support you to achieve them. Of course you have to overcome the fear of sharing information, but you'll be amazed at just how much you gain in return, both emotionally as well as practically. It's not about sharing the inner most secrets of what makes your business a success, but about sharing experiences which will often uncover obstacles that somebody else has already overcome.
So if you're struggling with the concept of mentoring, perhaps this will help youth think of it a little differently. My recommendations on places to meet great peers are Escape the City, The Hub, Virgin Media Pioneers, Startup Britain.
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For speakers - would be good to add a line such as 'Rekha Mehr will be speaking at The Huffingpost Conversation Starters events at Wilderness festival' and then that could link to the article about our events that Sarah did??