While many small business owners recognize the potential value of a trusted mentor, they often aren't sure of the best way to go about finding a mentor, or what kind of formalized mentorship programs exist.
Enter MentorshipBC, a new online resource that connects small business owners with mentorship programs.
MentorshipBC was launched in late 2013 as an outcome of the BC Small Business Accord. Raising awareness of available mentorship resources was one of this initiative’s six key action items.
The idea behind this easy-to-use resource is simple – by using the search tool on the MentorshipBC homepage, users will get a concise list of mentorship programs that most closely suit their needs.
How Does It Work?
MentorshipBC is not a directory of individual mentors looking to take on mentees. It’s meant to help small business owners identify the formalized mentorship programs – which are offered by a variety of organizations – that may be relevant to their needs.
Finding a mentorship program is easy – simply go to mentorshipbc.ca, select your location and then search. You can also filter program results based on your gender and whether you’re a newcomer to Canada.
You can also find success stories on the MentorshipBC website to learn about others’ experiences participating in mentorship programs.
What Kind of Mentorship Programs Will I Find on MentorshipBC?
All programs on MentorshipBC are screened to ensure they meet the following standards:
- Formal structured relationships (e.g. not an informal meet-up group)
- One-on-one mentor matching or peer mentoring
- Mentoring for a defined period of time
- Confidentiality and conflict of interest policies requiring acknowledgement from mentors and mentee
Further, the programs must also adhere to most of the following best practices:
- A policy preventing mentors from being investors in their mentee’s business
- A policy to ensure that mentors are not industry competitors to the mentee’s company
- A screening process with qualifying criteria of mentors and mentees
- A process to measure mentee satisfaction
- Program-related training for mentors
Mentorship Makes a Difference
In tandem with the launch of this new online service, MentorshipBC released the results of a recent survey of 300 BC small business owners on their experience, opinions and awareness of mentoring and mentoring programs.
The survey found that 34% or BC small business owners report having a had a mentor, and that 79% of these mentorships were arranged informally. What’s more, those who have had a mentor are often very satisfied with the experience, with 74% rating their overall experince as an 8 or higher on a scale of 1–10.
Further, those small business owners who have had a mentor report the following top four benefits for their business and personal lives:
- Growing personally (91% of respondents)
- Growing as an entrepreneur (86% of respondents)
- Achieving personal goals (78% of respondents)
- Growing their business (69% of respondents)
The study also found that the vast majority of BC small business owners weren't aware of what mentor programs currently exist.