Entrepreneurial mentorship activities offer start-up experience and small business insights for entrepreneurship majors and student entrepreneurs. New mentors want to create a worthwhile mentorship experience with goals set to embrace their mentee’s competencies and their entrepreneurial journey. These 12 suggestions help prepare your mentee to embark upon their own successful venture.
Entrepreneurial mentoring activities provide fulfilling opportunities for students to learn how to launch a business, run a small business, develop, and bring a product to market; the also offer opportunities to explore other professional and educational options. Providing entrepreneurial learning creates equally fulfilling mentorship opportunities for mentors to utilize their experience and knowledge to craft, support and motivate future business owners.
Creating a mentorship program with these 12 types of activities supports business goals and achieving SMART objectives. It helps ensure you and your mentee make the most of the opportunity. A solid plan helps ensure objectives are met, while maximizing your time and avoiding common pitfalls.
Your mentee may walk into the relationship with loads of ideas and confidence; they may be the total opposite and think they are only fulfilling a school or job requirement. They may have a list of potential objectives and needs, or they may have a difficult time making suggestions and maximizing your time. They need your guidance more than they know!
BECOME A MENTOR!
Mentorships are a 50/50 mentor-mentee relationship. You are the supportive guide. Mentees need to come prepared with an open mind and a willingness to communicate their needs, but you develop the path together.
It doesn’t matter if mentoring partners follow the same career path. Skills a new entrepreneur will need come from a variety of people and experiences over time. Your job is to help craft the mentorship program and ensure the goals are met.
Meet. Get to know each other.
After agreeing to partner, getting acquainted is the next step in developing your mentoring relationship. Meet on campus or off, but wherever is convenient and promotes a relaxed but serious atmosphere away from personal distraction.
Agree on how you’ll communicate, how often you’ll meet, share your basic thoughts on the program and creating an entrepreneurial experience, and commit to working together. Commitment helps ensure a successful mentorship.
Part of that initial meeting involves sharing mutual goals and understanding entrepreneurial context of the mentee’s objectives. Understand what they really want and must get out of the mentorship.
Your next step is to create the mentorship plan, so take time to also brainstorm around activities that your mentee will find meaningful. In order to prepare a solid, effective plan, you’ll need to integrate activities that will lead to a successful conclusion of the program. Before jumping right into activities, consider the entire situation and need.
A good mentor opens a mentee’s eyes to experiences and options that might not otherwise be considered. Help make the potentially overwhelming task of starting a new business less daunting, by helping your mentee focus on what resources exist now – mentally, physically, and financially – and talk through how and where the investment of time and energy will pay off.
Here is an example of how you might consider the entire situation and your mentee’s needs during that initial meeting.
Situation: You learn that your mentee is a chef, loves breakfast, and her dream is to open a breakfast shop.
However, she needs a plan, needs the funds to get started, and needs a way to bridge the financial gap. In this case, your mentee must find a job immediately after graduation to pay bills and survive, while starting her business.
This is helpful knowledge. Now, dig deeper. Get to know more about what she feels are her most critical needs and learn about her energy.
She may want help crafting a resume that will in some way support her personal business startup. Don’t make assumptions!
- Her mentorship plan may develop around time in a professional kitchen to advance her creative and business skills.
- What if she has the skills and a wonderful plan but needs a break from thinking about it 24/7? Perhaps she could work afternoons/evenings, so she can use the mornings to sell breakfast sandwiches or coffee at a local business park.
- She may need help figuring out what type of position will help her mentally, physically, and financially. Maybe she could do part-time work on-site somewhere to gain administrative skills.
- Maybe she could accept a full or part-time virtual customer service position for a company related to food service.
- Maybe she is a morning person who is also concerned about her health and not getting enough exercise. In this case, perhaps the movement and the shift differential she might gain from working in a warehouse on 2nd shift in a safe, close-to-home location could be perfect. She could then use her personal prime time in the morning to go on a run or walk and still dedicate 4 hours a day to her business.
Certain jobs she might consider unrelated to her business could be beneficial in another very helpful way.
A mentor’s role is to help your student recognize the correlation.
Take basic ideas such as beefing up a resume, interview practice, or strengthening presentation skills, and use them as is or build upon them. Do it together, or have them take the lead. Use your network to fill gaps in time and add perspective and expertise.
Every mentee’s situation will be different, so it’s very important to understand their mentorship and career goals. You’ll use the student’s personal goals to craft the plan, but you both own the success of the program. Offer guidance, and craft a mentorship plan with SMART goals. The activities bring the plan and learnings alive. Studies have shown what common sense also supports: selecting meaningful activities is very important!
MENTORSHIP ACTIVITIES FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP MAJORS
12 Helpful Suggestions Which Lead To Crafting A Solid Business Plan
Tweak these suggestions as needed to meet your mentee’s objective.
“Lead with a purpose; leave with a learning!”
1.) Create a discussion series or set of interviews to learn about the small business start-up process and journey.
~ Allow your mentee to ask you, or another expert, questions about your professional journey.
2,) Invite your mentee into your network and expand theirs.
~ Share what you do to maintain your network and increase its value.
~ Introduce research questions, then arrange purposeful flash mentoring meetings with other business professionals.
~ Guide them through considering who they know, could know, should know. Then help them connect with their alumni & peers, and industry groups that are free to follow or join.
3.) Set up a job shadowing experience.
~ Your mentee can shadow you or another expert, gaining insight into entrepreneurial leadership and/or small business needs.
~ Walk through company reports, sharing what’s most interesting about your work and how the skills relate to their future.
~ Provide a typical workday, letting them see what takes up most of your time and how investing that time pays off.
~ Have your mentee listen in on strategic meetings and discussions.
~ Talk with them about your real life scenario of how a product went (or is going) from a concept to landing into a customer’s hands.
4.) Role-play customer service scenarios.
~ Role-play customer service online responses, so your mentee understands how the introduction of their product or service also creates an immediate need for customer service. Help them understand the customer POV from the initial feedback through resolution.
~ Practice customer telephone interactions to understand the customer POV and need for connection. Whether they will be customer facing, chatting, or acting on submitted requests for help, they need to understand the need to develop the proper tone and timing, and the ability to resolve customer issues without the need to escalate or follow up. *This includes utilization of a BOT or automated responses.
5.) Create a reverse mentoring meeting.
~ Ask your mentee to advise and help solve one of your business needs. Ask for their advice on troubleshooting a sales or operational issue or maybe an issue with your target market; truly appreciate the outside perspective.
6.) Take shadowing a step further and create on-the-job practice.
~ You might allow your mentee to help create and execute a marketing campaign, or allow them to take those customer service learnings and apply them to upping your own response ratings.
7.) Utilize relatable, strategic reading, and follow through with discussion.
~ Read and discuss the impact of the events and how to apply the learnings to the economics of the student’s prospective business.
~ Select news, books, industry articles and/or a case study focusing on how to start or scale small business.
8.) Update your mentee’s resume.
~ Help them level up for networking, interviews and to ready themselves for opportunities to introduce their business plan.
~ Help them know Exactly what they have to offer and create a confidence booster: their elevator pitch.
~ Identify organizations to target for temp/permanent positions to earn income and/or related experience while starting up.
9.) Take a selective walk to observe and stop into similar small businesses.
~ As you walk, discuss small business needs and considerations.
~ Stop in. Ask owners for their best advice.
10.) Join local community events and groups or interact with them.
~ Help your mentee develop skills and broaden their network by taking part in community events and joining groups that meet in person, virtually or through social media. Share responses, what took place, how it was or was not helpful, the potential next steps, and learnings.
11.) Volunteer for strategic events.
~ Consider events where participation relates to skills your mentee must develop. Plan the follow up conversation to make sure the learning objective was met and to ensure closure.
12.) Review available free resources to support development of small business ownership skills.
~ Your mentee will wear multiple hats as a small business owner, and money will be tight. Investigate free resources your mentee can access to help develop their business and skills. Ideas include business plans, basic financial documents, tax tools, marketing tips, regulatory information, and resources to spur creativity and new learning.
NOW: Create your mentee’s business plan.
~ Whether they are launching a new business immediately or not, think through their plan, and document it. It needn’t be complicated, but they will conclude their mentorship, knowing what needs to happen and when, and having a set of personal expectations to help ensure their success.
The key to mentoring success with an entrepreneur is to stay connected with progress, learnings, and results.
Switch out and update activities as needed. Allow your mentee to speak freely. Appreciate the different perspective when determining the most effective way to achieve the mentorship objectives.
As you see, activities to support mentoring program objectives for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship majors aren’t much different than those of any other mentorship; they are simply expanded to focus on starting and running a business and are personalized to a higher degree. Entrepreneurs will not receive the benefits from participating in corporate training programs, or formal support, so mentorships are a terrific way to communicate and experience best practices and develop the skills most helpful for small business owners.
Mentorships can be fun, while providing incredible value to entrepreneurs. At the close of your mentorship program, the results will appear impressive and comprehensive! You got this!