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Some common myths about mentoring


1. Mentoring is simply for folks and businesses in hassle
Using a mentor is not a weakness, but a form of professional development.
Ruth explains, “If you were employed in a corporate environment the company would give you continuous development, but business owners don’t have anyone to give them feedback, which is where a mentor comes in.”
Mentoring is essential for every stage of business development from thinking about an idea, starting-up, through to expansion.
Fatima Najm is one of the co-founders of the collective Creatives Against Poverty, a mentoring scheme where creative professionals pool their skills for social impact.
This can be anything from mentoring young people in schools to working on the ground with charities. She believes: “A good mentor will show someone how to take the right steps to where they want to be.”
2. You need to be very old to be a mentor
Age is irrelevant, but in business mentoring you need a substantial experience which you need to prove, to join a project that aimed to train people to become business mentors.
Jodie says, “Experience and the ability to listen to matters most. I set up the company when I was 21 and I’m now 25, but my business experience may be more relevant than someone who has been in business for years.”
3.Creative folks don’t have something to supply mentoring
Mentoring is about sharing your skills, knowledge and experience with others. If you have a skill you can share, there is always someone who will benefit from it.
Fatima believes, “Creative people are good at creating environments where mentees can thrive, showing new paths and opportunities they may not have realised were open to them.”
4. Finding a mentor is troublesome
The sister website of getting Mentoring, MentorBox is a good starting point to find a mentor for your business, whether you are an SME or sole trader. The site lists mentoring organizations by region.
Ruth says, “If your mentor is in the same industry as you, they are more likely to give advice. But mentoring is not about answering your problems, it helps you solve them yourself which is why someone in a different sector who can share the business experience is more useful.”
Jodie on the other hand, specifically wanted to become a mentor in the arts because she felt there was a lack of them. “The arts is a niche sector and for too long it’s been about obtaining grants. I want to show that it can stand up on its own, and generate income.
“Secondly I think female mentors are very important to females in business because they can share experiences that men can’t, such as maternity leave and managing the business when you have children.”
5. Mentoring takes up an excessive amount of time
There are different types of mentoring. Face-to-face, one-to-one mentoring is the most common type, so it helps if you are geographically based in the same area. If not, you can telephone, do e-mentoring, or combine them.
The needs should be dictated by the mentee, which is why the first meeting is so important. Jodie advises, “Draw up an agreement, whether you want to meet monthly, or whether you only need that specific mentor for a short time.”
6. Only mentees get profit from mentoring
Mentors have a lot to gain from the mentoring process. Ruth says, “As a mentor, the experience should enhance your own career development. One of the advantages of mentoring younger businesses is that you get challenged with new ideas — especially their approaches to communications.”
Jodie adds, “When I started sharing my knowledge that’s when I realized that actually, I do know what I am talking about, which made me feel more confident about my business.”
Fatima says, “Mentors need to bury their own egos and give unconditionally for the time they are mentoring, they need to listen and react to needs.
7. Mentees ought to be secretive regarding sharing an excessive amount of data
It is common to feel unsure about how much you can share with a mentor, but remember it is a professional arrangement.
Ruth assures, “Mentoring is built on trust. If you go through an organisation they will have a code of conduct that covers confidentiality. If you go to an informal acquaintance, draw up your own privacy agreement.”
8. Mentors tell you what to try and do
A mentor’s role is to give an outside perspective, listen and share their own experiences, give honest and constructive feedback and unbiased support and encouragement, but they will should never tell you what to do.
Jodie received mentoring while she was setting up her theatre company. “My mentors helped me process my thoughts and ideas. At 21, none of my other peers faced the same issues so mentors were my only guidance.
9. Becoming a mentor is difficult
Get Mentoring trained mentors through an online learning program. The training involved recognizing your role as a mentor, reflecting on your skills and knowledge, understanding how to apply them, identifying strengths you wish to develop further and reflecting on your own experiences and the challenges you have faced.
10. Mentoring stops once your business booms
Mentoring relationships develop over time. Ruth says, “Mentoring can be just one session or take place over years. I have mentors for different aspects of my business, one who’s been with me for 18 years.”
“One way of knowing if mentoring is working for you is how the sessions make you feel. You should be enthused, motivated and look forward to meeting up with your mentor.
“Then there are the more tangible outcomes, whether your business is keeping on track, or whether you’ve seen any financial rewards if that’s what you were aiming for.”

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