STAGES OF THE MENTOR / ADVISOR RELATIONSHIP

 1

Connect & build a relationship

2

Learn, get inspired & encouraged, make connections, find opportunities

3

Wrap up & set expectations for the future

1

Connect & build a relationship

Guide to your 1st meeting

 

Conversation Guide: First Meeting between an Entrepreneur and an Advisor or Mentor

Congratulations, you’ve been matched!  In some cases an entrepreneur may have a question that can be addressed in one session.  However, in many cases the entrepreneur’s request will require more than one working session.  In any case, please follow these guidelines as a way to get started.

Before your first meeting:

  • If you are an entrepreneur:
    • Review the advisor/mentor’s Skysthelimit.org profile and  LinkedIn profile in order to get a sense of their background
    • Be ready to clearly describe where you are in your business and specifically what needs you are hoping to address with this advisor or mentor
  • If you are an advisor or mentor:
    • Review the Entrepreneur’s Skysthelimit.org profile and business Plan prior to the call

During your first meeting:

  • Start by getting to know one another – ask each other a question or two about what you learned in their profile, about their business, or even about how their day is going!
  • Then focus on the business need
    • Take the time to talk about where the entrepreneur’s business is currently and what the overall vision is
    • Then discuss the request for help and make sure the advisor/mentor clearly understands what is being requested
  • If appropriate, resolve the entrepreneur’s questions during the call
  • If the request will take more than one conversation::
    • Clarify specifically what the goal of the next call or meeting will be
    • Determine what (if anything) either the entrepreneur or the advisor/mentor needs to do in preparation for the next meeting
    • Agree on a meeting time and location for the next meeting

After any meeting:

  • As a courtesy, we strongly suggest that you follow up from the meeting by text or email to confirm any follow up meetings and acknowledge the time you spent together with “Thank you” or  “Nice meeting you”!
  • Confirm any additional meetings 2-3 days beforehand to avoid potential confusion or frustration with cancelled or missed meetings.

Let us know if we can support you further – just contact our program director, Robin@Skysthelimit.org , if you need help.

We know it's hard

Building a business isn’t easy – that’s why we built skysthelimit.org to get you the right kind of support, when you need it.

We know that you are trying to do a lot all at once:

Gaining confidence in yourself and your business idea Trying to be financially stable and pay the bills Get access to potential customers for your product or service
Building business skills and “professionalism”  Trustworthy, knowledgeable, reliable, culturally competent, and emotionally intelligent support Working other jobs and / or going to school on the side 
Building a roadmap and plan for achieving your business goals Getting the right connections to people in your industry Healing from trauma and discrimination

Core tenets

 

  • We focus on building a relationship of trust first
    • The first part of building a trusting relationship is showing the other person you’re excited to meet them and collaborate! We encourage both entrepreneurs and volunteers to really proactively reach out to each other right away to have their first – and any following – meetings.
    • We listen, giving our mentees our full attention.  We avoid jumping to conclusions or immediately administering advice.  We demonstrate a deep interest in their success.
    • We focus on the entrepreneur’s intentions and desires, not our own desires for them.  
    • We work with the the whole person, providing personal support and encouragement when appropriate rather than always driving for momentum in their business.  
  • Our goal is to empower the entrepreneur to help themselves
    • We model and teach where possible, subscribing to the adage “if you catch a fish for someone they eat for a day, if you teach someone to fish, they can eat for a lifetime”
    • Where appropriate, we provide templates or initial frameworks such (eg a contract template, logo, or QuickBooks setup) which they can re-use with little or no help
    • We ask probing questions, encouraging the entrepreneur to fully consider their options and conveying respect for their point of view
  • We model businesslike behavior
    • We proactively communicate, come to scheduled meetings promptly and prepared, follow up on promises, and are responsive to emails and calls.  
    • We offer specific, constructive feedback, emphasizing the importance of these skills
    • High Expectations: Have – and maintain – high expectations for yourself and your mentee  while accepting that no one is perfect.
  • We subscribe to the lean startup model
    • We encourage entrepreneurs to start small, test often, and generate revenue as soon as possible versus seeking loans and investments as a way to get started
    • We focus on low and no cost alternatives, “bootstrapping” whenever possible

 

2

Teach, guide, counsel, encourage, introduce

What advising is / is not

What advising & mentoring is 

Advisors and mentors provide some combination of these four kinds of support based on what a young entrepreneur needs:

TEACH

 

Teach entrepreneurs skills (both soft skills and Pathway-related skills), habits, and mindsets.

GUIDE

 

Ask probing questions, instill focus, and hold problem-solving discussions with entrepreneurs supporting them through their journey.

COUNSEL

 

Provide specific advice on different areas of business, such as how to create a budget, a brand strategy, or develop a proposal.

DO

 

Helping entrepreneurs actually build parts of their business, making relevant introductions in your own network, etc.

Advisors & mentors are confidants, partners in problem-solving, encouraging, curious, inspiring, and challenging while supportive.

What advising & mentoring is NOT

Direct “sponsorship” Focused on the advisor’s or mentor’s business interests Doing everything for the young entrepreneur
Too task-focused A conflict of interest Getting stuck in the details

Potential challenges

Relationships are complicated. Being aware of potential challenges can help you prevent or prepare for inevitable obstacles.

Inadequate
definition of roles and expectations
Conflicting values or a mismatch in personality compatibility Meetings are repeatedly
re-scheduled
(or missed)
Relationship difficulties (broken promises, prejudices, etc.) and a
lack of commitment
Wanting to give up Unreasonable demands
for help and support

Pathway to Business Ownership

Our Pathway to Business Ownership Checklist is a great resource to use every step of the way as you support our young entrepreneurs in building their businesses.

3

Wrap up & set expectations for the future

Next steps

If you and/or your entrepreneur feel ready to wrap up the work you’re doing together, here are a few steps we recommend:
    1. Talk to each other about your readiness to wrap up the relationship. If you need any support on this, contact our Program Director! In that conversation, be sure to recap what went well, the progress made, and provide encouragement and support to the entrepreneur!
    2. Discuss the most pressing needs of the entrepreneur now, and encourage them to request an Advisor or Mentor on skysthelimit.org to meet that need!‌‌
    3. Be sure to rate your experience working with the entrepreneur – this will not be shared and will improve our ability to match you with the right future entrepreneurs
    4. If appropriate, feel free to leave the door open to the entrepreneur to contact you at some point in the future in areas where you’re comfortable supporting them.
    5. If you feel inclined, offer your feedback to the skysthelimit.org team to help us continue to improve our work.
    6. Match with another entrepreneur on skysthelimit.org!