Running a startup is exciting and challenging for any entrepreneur. It’s the fulfillment of a vision and the chance to bring ideas to life.
But startups are also a function of the skillset and experience of the founder. While the idea may be marketable, other business requirements, such as finance, HR, and daily operations, are often not in the founder’s experience range.
Mentoring offers new entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn from experienced business leaders who have walked the same path. Below, we’ll explore mentorship in more detail and highlight some key tools to help your startup make the most of mentorship.
A Closer Look at Mentorship
Mentorship is a great opportunity for any entrepreneur. As the mentee, you benefit from:
- New operational knowledge
- Building skills for better decision-making and problem solving
- Having a trusted sounding board
- Receiving candid and relevant feedback
- Expanding your connections
These benefits have traditionally been available to new business leaders via one-on-one in-person meetings that covered topics they needed to understand better. As technology and events like COVID-19 upended many business models across the globe, they also altered mentorship models. Access to mentorship has expanded, and most models now include traditional elements along with new technology-driven tools.
Mentoring Tools for Startups
To help you make the most of mentorship, we’ve compiled a list of valuable tools and categorized them below.
Business mentorship was traditionally geographically focused; connections were made locally, and in-person meetings were required. This gap left vast regions of the world out of the range of mentorship. Today, there are mentoring match programs that help connect entrepreneurs to mentors around the world.
The most effective way to leverage resource-driven mentorship and obtain the best match is through programs like those offered by the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC). Here, the same digital tools and online interaction software are available alongside a broader community of academic and experienced business leadership experience programs suited for startups.
The days of managing a business with written notes are long gone. And the same is true of mentorship. There are many tools for staying organized for in-person or online meetings. Tools like Trello, Dropbox, and Google Docs streamline communication and allow real-time, interactive, and dynamic collaboration so that meetings are spent discussing results and not chasing data.
Third-party sites like those above also provide free tools and tools for facilitating the mentorship relationship. These include:
- Goal templates
- Milestone tracking
- Relationship closure agreements
- Benchmarking and progress tracking
Technology tools like the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) have revolutionized business practices. IoT technology within mentorship increases visualization and provides real-time data, making discussions more relevant and impactful.
Coaching can be centered on today’s performance measured accurately without the ambiguity of averages and targets. Technology like digital twins and business simulation software often cut through verbal descriptions. You and your mentor can be on the same page and review data without having to be in the same room.
Academic and Business Community Resources
Startups have vastly different needs than established companies. There is much involved in running a successful new venture, from managing funding and training to building network connections.
While software and technology are essential tools for improving these skills, many new businesses need more practical knowledge and deeper instruction than established companies.
Formal academic programs tailored to meet these needs draw on actual business leaders within the community to provide a mentoring experience that helps your startup get off the ground. These programs offer training in entrepreneurship and innovation and can even provide resources for R&D.
Make the Most of Your Mentorship
The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre at Georgian College offers these resources alongside an active mentorship program where startups are matched with experienced business leaders who meet their specific needs.
We can help you develop a sense of community and leverage additional resources tailored to your startup’s success. Contact us to learn more.