Become a Business Sensei

Become a Business Sensei


Business mentorship and coaching have become the latest ‘must do’ agenda items for many organisations and teams, and with good reason. Having a mentor can lead to improved skills for entrepreneurship, work performance, motivation and engagement, as well as clarification of professional and personal goals.

But what is mentorship all about?

Former US President Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” For me, this is the crux of mentorship.

Finding real value

Mentors can fill a vital role. Mentors transfer skills, knowledge and wisdom with the aim of empowering their mentee without causing co-dependency.

So what does this mean in practice?

Essentially mentorship involves three processes: teaching, coaching and then directing.

Teaching is all about imparting a new skill. For example, if you’d like to know how to speak to your key customers on the phone to close your sale, the mentor would help to show you how to do this in practice by perhaps demonstrating or role playing one of these calls with you.

Next, they’d coach you by watching you make a call and seeing what obstacles you may face.

The final stage in the process is where the real value of the mentorship relationship comes to the fore – the directing.

In this part of the process the mentor helps the mentee to identify what worked, what didn’t work and how they could approach things differently next time.

To return to our sales call example, if of the five calls the mentee made, in three of them they couldn’t get past the secretary to speak to the customer, the mentor could help to direct the discussion to find possible solutions. For example they could ask, “What do you think the obstacle was? How do you think you could get around it next time?”

Paying it forward

To be a successful mentor, you don’t need to know everything about your mentee’s business, but you do need to know how to help them think and reason in order identify where they’re making mistakes.

At The Hope Factory, we place great value on mentorship as part of all our programmes. We believe that if we can help to grow the individual business owner or entrepreneur then the business will be more likely to grow and remain sustainable.

As part of our Johannesburg Entrepreneur Support Programme entrepreneurs receive on-one-on mentoring. The programme also includes a number of other services such as financial mentorship, capital investment opportunities, networking, relevant workshops, specialist training, industry exposure and access to market opportunities.

Eleanor Scott
Eleanor Scott is the executive mentor at The Hope Factory, an established Enterprise Development organisation associated with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). She has spent the past 20 years developing entrepreneurs in the field of Early Childhood Education and the Wellness industry. For more information visit