Business mentoring: My experience as a mentee

- January 21, 2009 2 MIN READ

A mentee isn’t a mint confectionery, it means ‘one who is mentored’. Business mentoring is great for soloists in need of extra support, information and direction. Here’s how it’s given my business some valuable oomph.

Following my previous article How to make the most of a business mentor I’d like to share some experiences I’ve had to date as a mentee.

It’s been four months since Leonie began as my mentor. We met through a mentorship program, which sounds a bit like a foster agency for business children. While my spring chicken days are over, age didn’t stop me from tapping into this wonderful business mentoring resource. You can never be too old to learn from someone else.

A mentor often helps with business planning, setting goals and meeting them. When looking for a mentor, I had a new business concept that I wanted to turn into reality. Being a planaholic, I already had a business plan, marketing plan, branding proposal, financial plan, product development action plan and a launch action plan.

In short, this business concept had been mapped within an inch of its life. The only problem was that it had no life.

The demands of my current business kept distracting my attention. I decided the situation required someone to help me give this baby a slap on the butt and a good dose of oxygen.

Leonie wasn’t fazed by the filing cabinet I brought with me to the café for our first session. That was when I realised that there are valuable mentor qualities that aren’t listed on program questionnaires, like being warm and chatty. Leonie’s open and generous personality has consistently set the scene for insightful conversations both about my business and about me as a person.

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That’s another thing. While highly practical and action-driven, Leonie is also holistic in her view of success. I’ve found that much of our tête-à-tête has been about how this new business will reflect my values and interests and how it will fit in with the rest of my life.

Just having someone else to ‘ask’ (beyond Google, my imaginary friend) has been invaluable. Leonie will always do her best to give constructive answers. If it’s out of her scope, she will often source information via others in her network. Sometimes the answers simply come to me though talking to her.

One of my roles as a mentee has been organisational. That is, I’ve been the one who proposes meeting times and dates, the topics to discuss and what I want to achieve by the time I see Leonie again. I guess, being a hospital-corners kinda gal, that’s no surprise.

But in amongst the neat logistics, new ideas have been swished about, plans have been juggled and massaged and a fun human ingredient is appearing in aspects of my business concept.

Because I know I’ll be seeing Leonie soon, attendance to my nominated tasks is actually happening. Plus I’m still keeping my current business happy. While the new biz hasn’t been born into the world yet, I now know it will happen and approximately when.

In the meantime Leonie said she liked the idea of having a mentor for herself. To my surprise, she asked if I would be interested. Flattered and humbled, my answer was, ‘It would be a pleasure.’ Because, of course, I know it will.

Do you have any experiences of business mentoring or being a mentee?