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Updated 30 Sep 2020

Mentorship: It’s a growth technique for SMEs

Here are five ways that mentorship can fast-track your business growth. 

Sibongile Booi, 19 July 2017  Share  0 comments  Print

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An estimated 80% of start-up businesses in South Africa fail within the first three years, and a major factor in this is a lack of business management skill. 

As Michael Gerber in The E-Myth puts it: ‘One may understand the work of a business, but that does not necessarily mean one understands the business that does the work.’ Often, entrepreneurs and start-ups fail simply due to a limited ability to ‘run the business’.

Related: Mentorship – you can’t wing it

The Mentorship solution?

Mentorship has long been established as one of the most effective ways to mitigate a lack of practical exposure and experience in managing a business. It is a professional relationship in which an experienced person - the mentor - assists a mentee in developing skills and knowledge that will enhance the mentee’s professional and personal growth.

As the founder and owner of an SME, my growth and the growth of my business has been fast-tracked by mentorship. Below are five ways in which the mentors I have been exposed to have made a valuable impact:

5 Ways mentors make a valuable impact

  1. Mentors provide accountability. As a business owner, you need to take responsibility for your decisions and actions.  
  2. Mentors provide guidance on the activities that are critical for business success. 
  3. Mentors provide balanced feedback and a platform for bouncing off ideas. It is invaluable to have a more experienced person take time to review your ideas and provide constructive feedback.
  4. Mentors point out available resources, ranging from books, contacts, leads and options, providing access to information you would otherwise not have had.
  5. Mentors challenge their mentees and help them achieve the best they are capable of.

Related: The art of mentorship

Finding the right mentor for your business

Enjoying all the benefits of mentorship starts with finding a mentor that matches your workstyle, character and area of specialisation.

A suitable mentor is experienced, understands how businesses work and has started and run businesses. It is not critical that they understand the ins and outs of your specific business, as there are fundamental elements that all successful businesses need to have.

Mentors can elevate an SME’s capabilities, propelling these businesses into greater success. The earlier a business owner brings in a mentor, the better. A mentor will be able to offer focus and direction early on, especially in the critical growth years of the business.

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About the author

Sibongile Booi

Sibongile Booi is the founder of Second Office, the first virtual office solution in the Eastern Cape that offers cost-saving, flexible business and serviced office solutions. She’s been recognised as one of the Top 100 Women in the Border Kei Region and her company has been recognised on various platforms, including achieving First Runner Up in the 2016 Eskom Business Investment competition and becoming a recipient of the SAB Foundation Tholoana Fund. Sibongile is a big life enthusiast, a long-distance runner and a pilot in training.  Twitter @sibbooi or email [email protected]

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