Many people think of mentoring as more of a personal investment. The general belief is that entering into a mentor/mentee relationship can help both individuals learn new skills, make connections, and grow their individual careers. But according to a new Endeavor Insight report, the impact of mentorship extends far beyond the two parties involved.
We found that mentorship can significantly benefit growing companies and entrepreneurship communities as a whole. The report, which focuses on fostering productive entrepreneurship communities, analyzes how the founders of the most productive companies differed from other entrepreneurs. After gathering and analyzing data on over 100 different variables, Endeavor has determined that the founders of top-performing companies have built mentorship relationships with established entrepreneurs before, during, and after starting their own businesses. “These relationships [are] very powerful,” reads the report. “Top performers were much more likely to build relationships with founders who had led companies that reached scale.”
Research like this underscores Endeavor’s inextricable focus on mentorship. Studies and statistics aside, we’ve witnessed the profound effect that mentorship can have on an individual, a company, a local entrepreneurial ecosystem, a region, and eventually the world. Through mentorship, we’ve seen our Endeavor Entrepreneurs build thriving companies, employ thousands of people, generate billions of dollars in revenue, and give back to other entrepreneurs over time.
We’ve worked hard to build a global network of 5,000+ mentors from all around the world, plus 40+ dedicated local mentors at our Endeavor Louisville office. According to Endeavor Global, “Endeavor connects entrepreneurs with personal mentors who provide ongoing one-on-one support. Mentors are selected from Endeavor’s active global network and are matched based on the entrepreneur’s goals, needs and interests. Mentor relationships are continuous and provide entrepreneurs with inspiration and support.”
If you’re looking to find a mentor or become one yourself, there are many factors to consider. Find our five tips for functional and successful mentorship relationships below.
1. Ask yourself whether you want an internal or external mentor.
An internal mentor can be a person within your current organization or industry, while an external mentor is someone outside of it. There are benefits and drawbacks to both: an internal mentor knows your landscape and challenges at a more intimate level, and can offer you tailored, educated solutions to problems. But, office politics and internal hierarchy can impact the relationship in subtle ways, even if you’ve both agreed to confidentiality. Conversely, an external mentor may allow for more open and honest communication and can offer truly objective advice. You’ll also be exposed to more networking opportunities by virtue of them being outside of your industry or organization. With that said, an external mentor won’t know your coworkers, your company culture, or your specific weaknesses firsthand, and may offer more generalized advice as a result.
2. Consider personality type.
Once you’ve decided what kind of mentor you want, focus on finding the right personality type for you. Working with a mentor who is a “yes” person, for example, can create an echo chamber in which your thoughts and opinions are merely validated instead of questioned and improved upon. It’s crucial that your mentor challenges you in some way—they should have some sort of experience that you lack, and their personality type should balance yours out. For example, if you’re more conservative at work, it could benefit you to find a mentor that’s more of a risk-taker, and vice versa. This is arguably the most important thing to consider when establishing a fruitful mentorship.
3. Set boundaries and goals.
Verbal rules around confidentiality and mutual goal-setting should be established up-front. Anything you discuss with your mentor should be private. That way, you can talk through sensitive but important topics like long-term career goals, issues with bosses or coworkers, or structural concerns within your company without fear of retaliation. Mentorship requires genuinely open and honest communication—the success of the relationship depends on it. Finally, discuss what you both hope to get out of the relationship. Are you working towards one specific goal, or are you just looking for general career advice and guidance? What can you provide your mentor? How can you ensure that the relationship is mutually beneficial?
4. Stick to a consistent schedule.
The mentorship will only be successful if you both commit to meeting on a regular basis. At the very least, have a standing meeting once a month on the same day or week. Remember that reciprocity is key—both parties must be equally dedicated to the mentorship in order for it to thrive. Additionally, both parties should come prepared to the monthly meet-up to ensure that it’s as productive and helpful as possible. Consider preparing a list of topics to discuss or bring a project you’ve been working on to get their feedback.
5. Make the relationship a healthy one.
Finding a great mentor isn’t all that different from making a new friend—it’s important to be respectful, kind, and to get to know your mentor on a personal level. The better the relationship, the more open and honest you’ll be able to be with each other, and the more you’ll ultimately get out of the mentorship. Finally, mentees should still challenge their mentors by pressing them on ideas, solutions, and recommendations. Mentors should know when to listen, know when to provide an answer, and know when to encourage the mentee to find the solution themselves.
If you’re a high-impact entrepreneur and want to learn more about the Endeavor network, reach out to us via our application page. We’d love to hear from you!