Business Mentoring

Whether you are new to business, have plans to grow, or are facing some new challenges; working with a mentor can help you with advice and insights that can sometimes mean the difference between failure and success.

What are mentors?

Mentors are experienced business persons who are there to provide an objective sounding-board for working out dilemmas and thinking strategically about your business. They provide support, stimulate your thinking, challenge your ideas and give you a second opinion.

Mentors understand that not every business owner is an expert in all matters and can provide assistance in viewing your challenges in a different light, and their knowledge and specialised expertise can point you in the right direction. Finally, mentors can offer caution against potential pitfalls and build your confidence in your own abilities. Is it important to note, however, that a mentor is not a consultant and will not work within your business. Their role is to facilitate open discussion, share knowledge and experience and offer an alternative perspective on a variety of issues. Mentors work to explore and flesh-out ideas, while the mentee turns these into actionable strategies for improvement.

Benefits of mentoring

For Mentors

The main focus of the program is to assist the mentees personal and professional growth by sharing knowledge the mentor has learned through years of experience. However, the mentor still gains from the experience. Some of the key benefits include;

  • Strengthening of coaching and leadership skills
  • Giving back something to the business community
  • Gaining the satisfaction of providing wisdom and experience to the next generation of young professionals
  • Increasing self-esteem, self-confidence and affirmation of professional competence
  • Exposure to diverse thoughts, styles, personalities, and cultures through interaction with a different generation
  • Expanding your own network of contacts
  • Networking with other mentors

Mentoring is challenging and stimulating for both parties. You’ll feel considerable satisfaction when your mentee reports back progress and improvements on the issues and challenges that they are addressing. You’ll also have the added satisfaction that you are giving something back and supporting local businesses.

Skills and experience you’ll need as a mentor:

  • The ability to listen and empathise
  • Experience of the issues and challenges faced by growing businesses and organisations
  • The ability to offer encouragement and sympathy
  • A supportive and hands-off approach that allows others to make their own decisions
  • A willingness to volunteer your time, knowledge and skills

Click here to apply to become a mentor

For Mentees

Running a business can make you feel lonely, so it’s nice to feel supported. Often, you’re not in a position to share your concerns or ask for other people’s advice; that’s when mentoring can help. Some of the key benefits of being mentored include;

  • Obtaining assistance in thinking ‘out of the box’ and to derive solutions for potential problems
  • Getting access to a broader business perspectives
  • Improved productivity, performance and results
  • Reaching challenging goals
  • Increased confidence
  • Improved networking skills
  • Improved leadership and management skills
  • Improved delegation skills
  • Defeating procrastination

To be a suitable Mentee you must:

  • Think about what you want to get out of a mentoring session, and afterwards reflect on how you can use any insights
  • Be open to being challenged about what you do
  • Be willing to respond to criticism
  • Be able to step back and identify areas of potential improvement
  • Understand that mentoring is a two-way relationship

Entrepreneurs who get the most out of their mentors are the ones who are seeing them every month, and works with their mentor to set goals and objective for the coming month.

Click here to apply to receive mentoring

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cost to register?

No. The mentoring programme is free for both mentors and mentees, however both must be current members of the International Trade Council.

What is the difference between training and mentoring?

Training is generally delivered according to a pre-determined curriculum, with the trainee carrying the burden of meeting the curriculum’s deliverables. Mentoring is a more customised activity, that assigns deliverables to the Mentor as well as to the Mentee. In addition, the role of Mentor may be to serve as a “role model,” whereas the role of a trainer is generally to deliver a specific content without having a “partnership” with the trainee.

What is the commitment for Mentors and Mentees?

Mentors and Mentees are required to meet once a month, for about an hour, over a period of approximately six months.

Can I participate in the Mentorship Programme more than once as a Mentor or a Mentee?

Yes, both Mentors and Mentees can participate in the program multiple times in multiple roles. So a person can register to be a Mentee more than once, and then later register as a Mentor. Mentors can participate as many times as they desire.

What happens at the end of the six month programme? Can I continue my mentorship relationship?

At the end of the ‘official’ 6 month mentorship session, if you and your Mentor/Mentee wish to continue your mentoring relationship, we encourage you to do so. Mentorship is rewarding in any setting and at any time. Mentorship relationships are not tracked beyond the 6 months, but our office is available to provide support if needed.

Who will my Mentor be?

Your Mentor will be an experienced business person who has experience in some of the challenges that you have identified in your Mentoring Request submission and will be located within a reasonable travelling distance to your business.

How are Mentors/Mentees matched?

Mentees and Mentors are matched based on preferred background and experiences listed in their registration profiles.

Once I am matched, what happens next?

Once matched, participants are asked to read the Mentorship Program Guidebook. Instructions for both Mentors and Mentees can be found in the guidebook, along with a meeting log and the mentorship program contract.

When will I meet my Mentor/Mentee?

After a Mentor and Mentee have been matched an agent will let both parties know. The Mentor will then contact the Mentee within ten working days to arrange to meet. Meeting times and locations will be organised to suit both Mentor and Mentee.

What will the Mentor do?

Your mentoring will be tailored to suit your individual needs so it’s hard to be specific. In general terms, the Mentor will firstly work with you to conduct a confidential business assessment and define your mentoring requirements and objectives. Using this assessment your Mentor will develop an agreed action plan with you and then work with you to implement the plan.

What are the key aspects to ensure the mentoring is successful?

  • Setting realistic and measurable goals
  • Maximising the time available
  • Honesty between Mentor and Mentee
  • Mutual respect
  • Clear expectations and open communication

How can I expect my mentor to work alongside me?

Depending on your challenges and circumstances you can expect your mentor to do some or all of the following:

  • Facilitate growth by sharing resources and networks
  • Challenge you to move beyond your comfort zone
  • Create a safe learning environment for taking risks
  • Assist with the implementation of any training that you do into your business
  • Share knowledge and life experiences
  • Provide guidance and advice
  • Listen
  • Inspire and offer encouragement
  • Be genuinely interested in questions and concerns
  • Be open and honest
  • Discuss goal setting
  • Support the implementation of business knowledge and skill

Can I be a Mentor and a Mentee?

Yes, a person can participate as both a Mentor and a Mentee.

Mentees are encouraged to help others by participating as a Mentor in the future. The “graduation” of Mentees to Mentors permits this programme to continue to help other aspiring businesses in their communities.

Do you offer mentoring in groups?

The mentoring programme is intentionally designed to operate in an environment of one-on-one interaction. Other resources such as the ITC Breakfast Networking Sessions are available for group exchanges.

Will the personal and professional information I share through the mentoring programme be kept confidential?

Yes. All programme applicants are required to sign a confidentiality agreement before any Mentor/Mentee relationship commences.

Is there any request a Mentor can deny?

Yes. Mentors are not consultants, or employees. Mentors listen, give opinions and advise. They do not do the ‘hands on’ activities for the Mentee. They will also not provide advice on anything which may be deemed as unethical or illegal, or with which they are uncomfortable dealing.