For business owners, having a mentor on your side can help you achieve greater success and do it faster. A recent survey asked small-business owners which tools or practices are most helpful when it comes to advancing female entrepreneurs. Across the board, the top answer was creating mentorship programs for women. Mentoring relationships offer a great deal of benefits, both to the mentee and the mentor, and they have a proven track record of success.
Mentorship programs provide small-business owners with a significant opportunity for learning. Mentees can get access to important insights and advice based on a mentor's firsthand experience, which can help them run their businesses successfully.
In a survey by the Harvard Business Review, 84% of CEOs with mentors said that the relationship helped them avoid costly mistakes and become proficient faster; 71% said their company performance improved; and 69% said they were able to make better decisions.
When a business owner performs well, their business can perform well, too. According to research from SCORE, a network of volunteer business mentors, 30% of business owners who had just one interaction with a mentor reported business growth and 43% of business owners reported growth after five or more mentoring sessions.
SCORE's report found that the top three areas in which entrepreneurs sought mentor advice were human resource issues, growth and expansion, and startup assistance. Further, the report found 87% of entrepreneurs with a mentor are still in business after their first year, compared to 75% of those who did not have a mentor.
Mentorship programs also foster a sense of community for female entrepreneurs who can feel isolated when starting their own businesses. Mentees may not be able to articulate their concerns or questions at first, but through mentorship, they can find a real partnership and gain a greater understanding of the business.
Experienced female business owners provide a lot of value by mentoring those who are just starting out, but they also have a lot to gain themselves. Notably, mentors get to pass on their industries' best practices by sharing their own experiences. The satisfaction you can get from helping someone who was once in your shoes can be fulfilling.
Mentors also play a part in strengthening female-owned businesses overall. Women open businesses more often than men and contribute more than $3 trillion to today's U.S. economy. However, just 2 percent of venture funding goes to women, Fortune reports. By helping women avoid common mistakes and strengthen their companies, you make the landscape stronger for all women.
Mentors will also get to hone their leadership skills. If you become a mentor, you will need to motivate your mentee and be an accountability partner. This can help you become a better manager with your own employees.
Overall, entering into a mentor-mentee relationship is a win-win. Particularly as a female mentor of an aspiring female business leader, you'll receive countless benefits in helping your mentee grow into a successful leader, focusing on growth in a more comfortable environment.
Mastercard has partnered with Create & Cultivate, an online community and conference for female business owners. One of the features of this partnership is one-on-one mentorships with seasoned entrepreneurs. Put simply, finding a good mentor can accelerate your business and guide you when it's time to make tough decisions. Be sure to take the time to find and nurture the right relationship. The benefits can be lifelong.
Stephanie Vozza is an experienced writer who specializes in small business, finance, HR and retail. She has been a regular columnist for Fast Company for more than four years and her work frequently appears in Inc., Entrepreneur and Parade.