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.
- Answering questions is fairly straightforward: give the people what they think want to help them get unstuck or find the best path forward.
- Providing resources is giving access to (and often just awareness of) certain people, tools, techniques, books, etc., that can help them on their journey.
- 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.