The concept of ‘girl code’ has applications in the business environment too. Who is better placed to know the challenges faced by a female entrepreneur than a female entrepreneur?
The playing fields are not always even. Despite much progress, there is still a great deal of male privilege in many industries. Having someone who understands the challenges, offering mentorship is a great advantage. For established female entrepreneurs, the opportunity to share expertise and soft skills are greatly satisfying.
A competent mentor can make the difference between success and failure for emerging female entrepreneurs.
Here are some examples of how female entrepreneurs can mentor budding businesswomen:
Encouraging the female entrepreneur to take the risk
Jill Griffin’s post speaks a lot about taking risks when it comes to business. Many women have great ideas. A lack of courage or an unhealthy dose of self-doubt often causes women to give up without trying. Entrepreneurship requires taking large risks to seek larger rewards.
Griffin’s book, Women Make Great Leaders, tells the story of many women who took the leap of faith. Mentorship is essential prior to the launch of a business. Women must be encouraged by successful entrepreneurs to take the risk.
Risk means a chance of success with an equal possibility of failure. Griffin feels that while success is the goal, failure along the way also serves as a series of valuable lessons.
Mentors should be proactive in their approach to mentoring young female entrepreneurs
Female entrepreneurs achieve success after a lot of hard work. Seeing other women trying to succeed, the established entrepreneur need not wait to be approached for mentorship.
Offering to mentor someone might be an answer to prayer. Many people are too afraid to ask for help. The fear of being rejected or ridiculed is high.
Women who approach others seeking success and offer to mentor them can make a difference. Proactive mentors seek out women who might need guidance. Indicating an open-door policy could encourage a woman to seek help from a mentor. That opening move creates an opportunity for a mentoring relationship to begin.
Mentoring in a group is a good idea
One-on-one contact can be very intense and might be intimidating. The idea of having someone so successful focusing 100% on her might make a woman feel overwhelmed. Group mentoring sessions could prove more successful. A mentor can create a platform where women can meet. The women may be experiencing similar challenges.
The mentor plays more of a facilitating role. She starts the session, gives advice and guidance, and then opens the floor to discussion.
The mentees have valuable time to network and gain strength from others having similar experiences. The mentor is also able to share valuable information with more than one person at a time. This helps the mentor to reach as many women as possible.
Give honest feedback even when it’s negative
One of the most important aspects of a mentoring relationship is feedback. Mentees need to learn from their successes and mistakes. Having a mentor who shies away from pointing out shortcomings is not doing the mentee any favors.
In the relationship, successes must be celebrated. Failures must also be discussed, and advice is given on how to proceed.
EssayOnTime project manager Jen Atkins says that her mentor was never shy to tell her where she’d gone wrong. “Her honesty and constructive criticism gave me the tools I needed to succeed,” Atkins declared. A mentor should share with a mentee some areas for development for the purposes of learning and improvement.
Formalize the mentor-mentee relationship
Carol Rodz writes about mentoring as a way to help an entrepreneur and suggests making the relationship official. She writes, “In order for a mentor relationship to grow and evolve, it must be formalized at some point.”
This is sound advice for mentors and mentees. At first, the discussions may be informal. The mentor and mentee can establish a sound relationship.
The mentee can ask the mentor to make the interaction official. Alternatively, the mentor might offer to do so.
Formalizing the relationship allows both parties to discuss mutual expectations and schedule regular sessions. The mentor and mentee can decide on a comfortable mode of communication and set objectives for the mentorship process.
Share real-life experiences as part of the mentorship
The mentoring process is not about theory alone. Women want to hear that others have had similar struggles and get advice on what to do. Sharing gender-related frustrations is an essential part of the process.
The mentee should feel free to ask questions about overcoming these obstacles. The mentor can tell the mentee about encountering similar experiences and triumphing.
Gender-related issues are still a struggle for many female entrepreneurs. Despite gender equity legislation in many countries, women still struggle. Male-dominated industries are hard for women to break into. Women have traditional responsibilities like housekeeping and childrearing to contend with while climbing the ladder to success. Discussing how to balance it all will give the mentee strength to persevere.
Empathic mentoring is an effective approach
An empathic approach is helpful for female mentors seeking to guide and help female entrepreneurs. The approach requires a mentor to show the mentee that she can put herself in someone else’s shoes.
Empathic mentoring makes the mentee feel reassured and secure in the relationship. Feeling safe in the space created by the mentor will make the mentee more likely to share everything instead of holding back.
Empathic mentoring is an approach known to create a long-term relationship. The skills needed for this approach may not come naturally to the mentor. They can be developed with time and patience. This makes it a worthwhile skillset that a mentor can, in turn, pass on to a mentee.
Mentoring is a great responsibility. Mentors can learn much from the process as well. Sharing expertise and skills is vital as these will help the mentee succeed. Many mentors use the opportunity to mentor to foster self-growth and rediscover themselves in the process. A female entrepreneur who has felt a need to mentor someone should take the leap of faith and do it. Those who might not have should consider doing so. Another woman’s life may be forever changed by it.
Serena Dorf is a content writer in Los Angeles. She is passionate about writing, personal development, education, and marketing. In her free time, she is reading classic American literature and learning Swedish. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter.