7 Ways to Mentor Female Entrepreneurs

 

7 Ways to Mentor Female Entrepreneurs

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.

To Conclude

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.

 

 

 

Do Women Benefit from an MBA?

Do Women Benefit from an MBA?

In recent years, with education costs skyrocketing and entrepreneurialism growing trendier, serious questions about the necessity of business school have arisen. The arguments against business school are simple: the debt is crippling, and these days people are as likely to find success starting their own companies right out of college as finding jobs in existing corporate structures. You can pretty easily find data both supporting and countering these arguments, though Bloomberg might have done the most objective analysis, looking specifically at the return on investment numbers at several top MBA programs.

 

The reality, though, is that there really isn’t a right or wrong answer to the question of an MBA’s value in modern society. There are some cases in which it will be useful and worth the investment, some in which it may be unnecessary, and some that probably fall somewhere in the middle. But in this post I want to address the same question specifically with regard to women entering the workplace with business aspirations.

 

A couple years ago, a fairly thorough article in Forbes put forth five reasons that women should consider MBAs, despite some of the skepticism about business degrees mentioned previously. To summarize, here’s a look at those five reasons:

 

1. Preparation For Male-Dominated Culture

This is probably the fairest point made in the Forbes article. Simply put, business school can be a pretty “fraternity-like” environment (as the article put it). While that might not sound appealing—particularly after undergrad—it’s not the worst preparation. Business culture is still pretty male-dominated in a lot of cases, and by putting yourself in the same situation for school you can develop thicker skin and a stronger voice in the face of a cult of business bros.

 

2. Increased Comfort with Risk

Forbes wisely points out that business school teaches students that risk is always present in the professional world. You’ll learn when and how to take gambles on companies, proposals, investments, etc., and it will all serve you well in a professional capacity later on. But it may be most helpful of all to women, giving that boldness and quick decision-making can be strong assets when you’re outnumbered by men.

 

3. Lessen Your Inner Perfectionist

In assisting prospective MBA students with their applications, the Menlo Coaching program focuses a great deal on honesty, introspection, and admitting personal failures or shortcomings. Indeed, these are all important aspects of a good application, but as demonstrated by countless successful businesspeople, they’re also valuable traits moving forward. The Forbes article agrees, pointing out that “strong is better than perfect,” and that the ability to accept limitations in the name of finishing tasks is a vital one in business. This is something you’ll certainly learn in the schooling process, though it’s more generally useful than specific to women.

 

4. Preparation For Competition

This goes somewhat hand-in-hand with the first point. Business school will undeniably increase your comfort level with competition and leadership, but there’s an argument to be made that this is more important for women than for men. Unfortunately, a man who doesn’t learn competitiveness from business school is likelier to be accepted anyway in a business environment, whereas a woman who shows any level of discomfort with this aspect of business school might just not make it.

 

5. Become More Numbers-Savvy

This too is more of a general point than one that’s specifically applicable to women, but it’s worth noting nevertheless. Sometimes we forget that there’s actual education involved in pursuing an MBA, rather than money spent and a degree earned. The numbers side of business is one that needs to be learned patiently and comprehensively, and business school certainly helps with that.

 

None of this is meant to answer the question definitively, because the merits of business school and the MBA are best determined on a case-by-case business. However, it is clear that as long as we live in a world in which men still largely dominate business, there are some additional considerations for women in the MBA debate.


Patti Conner

Patti Conner is a freelance blogger based out of Seattle, WA. She focuses on topics related to business and finance.

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