Mentorship Support for Entrepreneurs

Best Practices for a Mentor

Don't give advice in first or second meeting

Use the first couple meetings to get to know your mentee and establish trust. Reserve discussing your own experiences or giving advice until after your mentee has had a chance to thoroughly explain his or her issue, question, or concern.

Listen Actively

Active listening not only establishes rapport but creates a positive, accepting environment that permits open communication.

Build Trust

Trust is built over time. You will increase trust by keeping your conversations and other communications with your mentee confidential, honoring your scheduled meetings and calls, consistently showing interest and support, and by being honest.

Determine Goals and Building Capacity

As a role model, you should have your own career and personal goals and share these, when appropriate, with your mentee. It is also likely that he or she will ask you how you set and achieved your own goals. In addition, you can help them identify and achieve their career and personal goals. You will develop your mentee’s capacity for learning and achieving his or her goals by doing the following:

  • Assisting him or her with finding resources such as people, books, articles, tools, and web-based information

  • Imparting knowledge and skills by explaining, giving useful examples, demonstrating processes, and asking thought-provoking questions

  • Helping him or her gain broader perspectives on his or her responsibilities and organization

  • Discussing actions you’ve taken in your career and explaining your rationale


Giving encouragement is one of the mentoring skills most valued by mentees. There are many ways to encourage. Try some of these:

  • Comment favorably on his or her accomplishments

  • Communicate your belief in his or her capacity to grow personally and professionally and reach his or her goals

  • Respond to his or her frustrations and challenges with words of support, understanding, encouragement, and praise. (Just knowing that someone else has been there can be tremendously helpful.)


Inspire your mentee to excel, try some of these:

  • Share your personal vision or those of other leaders

  • Describe experiences, mistakes, and successes you or others have encountered on the road to becoming a successful business owner

  • Talk with him or her about people and events that have inspired and motivated you

  • Introduce him or her to your colleagues who can be additional useful contacts or inspiring models

Pro Tip

Reflecting on your mentoring practice, noting use of the key mentoring skills, observing progress made in the relationship, and requesting feedback from your mentee are excellent ways to assess whether you are employing these skills.