How to Find a Business Mentorship Program that Works for You

Cathy Burrell August 2, 2022
Women in a Business Mentorship Program

Many women entrepreneurs list ‘A Mentor’ as something they want—and for good reason! A business mentorship program can make a real impact on your business.

Ninety-five percent of our Mentees say they feel confident with their business skills, compared to 35% prior to participating in our mentorship program. And 81% say having a Mentor has improved their decision-making skills. 

There are many different types of mentorship programs. How do you know which one is a good fit for you?

If you search mentorship, women, BC, you will see a couple of programs that may pique your interest (of course I hope you choose to apply with WeBC!) 

If you’re wondering how to find a business mentorship program, here are a few factors to consider:

How much time do you have for the business mentorship program?

How many hours, realistically, can you spend in a business mentoring program each week or each month? 

Many programs require you to attend a monthly meeting; however, you’ll need to commit to some preparation pre-meeting, and follow-up after your meeting. 

In my experience as a Mentor, I can’t emphasize enough how preparation and follow up can benefit your mentoring relationship. Taking some time during your week to note any pain points in your operations or business planning. Taking those notes and formulating a few specific questions to ask your Mentor can make all the difference in the world. 

To solve a small problem before it becomes unmanageable is the type of proactive approach that leads to business success! Does the mentorship program you are considering have time built in for this kind of pre- and post-meeting discussion? 

How do you like to communicate with your mentor?

Many entrepreneurs don’t realize that mentors usually volunteer their time as Mentors. Does the mentorship program you are considering have a policy around when and how you can communicate with your Mentor? Do you communicate with the program head, rather than directly with your Mentor? 

Depending on the complexity of the issues you intend to work on with your mentor-as-guide, this may be a deciding factor for you. In my role as Mentor with WeBC we’re encouraged to establish guidelines around communication that respects our time and the Mentee’s time in our first meeting together.  

Once those agreements were set, most of the communication outside the actual meeting time was handled by myself, as I made it clear to my mentees that I was available to talk, text or email should something come up. 

Communication style is personal preference, so be sure you’re comfortable with the communication parameters prior to applying to the program.

Is the business mentorship program flexible?

If you’re running a business, managing a family, and trying to have a life, you understand what I mean! Being accepted into a mentoring program a month or two in the future can require a bit of juggling should a staff or family member become sick, or your business experience an unexpected shock. 

Be sure to choose a mentoring program that allows you the flexibility to change your plans. Does the program allow you to miss a session, or change groups? What happens if you and your Mentorjust don’t quite ‘click’? Choose a program that allows you to speak to someone throughout the process in confidence. 

You’ve probably been waiting for a program to open for applications, or for a Mentor In your specific industry to become available. Once you have been accepted into a program, take some time to understand who your contact people are, and if need be, to clarify your commitment to your Mentor, and/or the other members of your group. 

If something happens and you are unable to participate be sure to understand the refund and exchange policy. 

Ask around

Many times a personal referral is what helps you to decide on a mentorship program. 

Did a fellow member of a networking group rave over a program? Did your accountant or bookkeeper mention a client who had a 5-star mentorship experience? Have you had a good or GREAT experience with an organization’s other programs such as Business Advising or Financing? (We hope so!) Have you read a few glowing testimonials on the organization’s website, or on Social Media? If so, your search for the perfect mentoring program may be over!

Finally, if you’re searching for a business mentoring program and can’t find a perfect fit, consider this: perhaps you don’t need a mentoring program at this stage of your business. 

Perhaps you would benefit by speaking with a Business Advisor instead. Consider registering for a session on marketing. Or business planning. If you aren’t sure what you need to move your business forward, perhaps we can help. And if you’re an experienced entrepreneur, maybe you’re ready to give back as a Mentor, like me!

About Cathy Burrell

Cathy Burrell is Client Service Support for WeBC and an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience owning and operating a variety of businesses. She has a Master of Education degree from the University of Calgary, specializing in adult, community and higher education. Cathy believes COVID-19 highlighted the importance of clear communication, both online and offline. She currently helps clients develop their social, listening and critical thinking skills. Cathy works with busy business owners teaching digital literacy and communication education to give them insight into their digital customer base. Follow her on Twitter @CathyCavern

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