The Value of Mentorship

As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week earlier today, I had the privilege of mentoring in a "speed-dating" round-robin put on by our good friends at Startup Sac and the Carlsen Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Sacramento State — virtually, of course.

I got to spend 90 minutes talking about early adopters and value proposition design and business models and go-to-market and the rest of that jazz. In exchange, I got to hear interesting things they were working on, to flex muscles in different and unique ways, and to be rewarded with widening eyes when I offered something they hadn't quite thought of before. It was a bargain: mentoring is a rewarding experience for me, and I hope they learned something useful in pushing their revolutionary ideas further into the market.

I usually define mentorship as being composed of three key behaviours: answering questions, providing resources, and removing obstacles.

  1. Answering questions is fairly straightforward: give the people what they think want to help them get unstuck or find the best path forward.
  2. Providing resources is giving access to (and often just awareness of) certain people, tools, techniques, books, etc., that can help them on their journey.
  3. Removing obstacles is the often-overlooked task of removing the blockers that stand in entrepreneurs' way of getting where they want to go (more often than not, they're self-imposed).

The removal of obstacles is by far the most interesting to me, and arguably the most valuable — I'll probably write about that in more detail sometime soon. But I was reminded during this mentorship session that this act is where I learn the most, too: about what stops founders from scaling; about what gets in the way of progress; about the barriers to entry for early-stage entrepreneurs; and about the small tools, techniques, and models that work to re-frame the way we think about things — some of which you can find in our growing resource center.

As we reach nearer the end of GEW2020, I'll write about one such model in a little bit more detail. Stay tuned.

Josh David Miller

19 November 2020

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