There are a number of mentorship programmes that you can get involved in and incubator progammes like the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship are always looking for mentors who are willing to volunteer their time to local start-ups.
There are both online and person-to-person services available. Some offer their services for a fee, while others simply donate their time. The important thing is to choose an offering that works for you. Mentor-mentee relationships should be rewarding for both parties, so it is important that you choose the right mentees and are happy with the way the relationship is structured.
On how to be a great mentor
A good mentor is valuable for a start-up. As a mentor, you want your mentee to succeed, and you should be full of business advice and have a great network that the entrepreneur can tap into. You should also be able to direct your mentee in terms of business issues they should be think about and questions they should be asking.
Here are a few things to look for when choosing to make a mentor/mentee match:
- Join alumni associations, SME development forums and attend trade association meetings. Potential mentees are looking for you, so help them by networking as well.
- Give your mentees access to people and resources that they don’t have – or don’t even realise they should have.
- Ask your mentee to clearly outline their expectations, and in turn tell them what you are offering. Ensure form the word go you both clearly understand the other’s expectations of the relationship.
- If the mentee has a good experience and learns and grows through their contact with you, they in turn will become mentors themselves later in life. In this way your contribution will continue to influence and help young start-ups.