I find it quite fascinating how men and women perceive themselves so differently in business.
For example, according to the 2012 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor US Report, if you ask female and male entrepreneurs of comparable levels of experience and education if they are capable of starting a business, two thirds of men believe they can compared to less than half of women.
So What Gives?
Why would less than 50 per cent of intelligent women not think they are good enough, smart enough, or capable enough to succeed in business?
I believe women have made huge strides in work and life equality in the past 100 years, however the self-limiting thoughts we have about ourselves haven’t changed as much as they should have through the years.
To make a true change in our perceptions we need to change our mindsets and one simple way to do this is through mentorship.
How Mentorship Can Change The Way Women See Themselves
Sometimes it takes another person to see the best in you when you can’t see it yourself. And a mentor is a great way to do that. Mentors can help boost your confidence and increase your chance of business success in the following ways:
1. Mentorship Can Show Women What Is Possible
Before things were made possible, they were impossible. If you’ve never truly thought you can accomplish your dreams, seeing someone achieve what you want can help you see things differently.
Heather Payne, founder of Ladies Learning Code, a non-profit organization to help women learn code relies heavily on the influence of mentors to help women in the Canadian tech industry.
Heather understands the importance of how a mentor can change an entrepreneur’s perception. She says: “One of my favourite things about what I do is that I can be a role model and mentor for so many women. There’s something about seeing someone like you do it. Whether that’s development, entrepreneurship, angel investing or something else, a mentor who has been there can show you it’s possible.”
2. Mentorship Gives Women Support When They Feel Alone
Many women in male dominated industries feel extremely isolated. In fact, in the tech industry, more than half of female MBA-holders leave the industry because of the male-dominated business culture and lack of mentorship.
Meredith Powell, co-founder of The Next Big Thing, a non-profit foundation that empowers next generation entrepreneurs, agrees. She says: “Working in tech, I am frequently one of only a handful of women in a boardroom or at a conference. I believe it’s up to me, and to experienced entrepreneurs like me, to actively bring diversity to the forefront in a positive way.”
Luckily, mentorship is a simple loneliness buster. Women with mentors feel more supported and connected as they have role models to talk to who understand what they are going through.
And it’s not just female mentors who are helpful. Meredith feels engaging men in these conversations is key. She says: “My own strongest champions around diversity are composed equally of men and women. Supporting each other across gender lines is just smart business.”
3. Mentorship Increases Your Network and Business Exposure
Women are more likely to have smaller business networks than men, which can put them at a disadvantage. Studies show that entrepreneurs with larger and more diverse networks are more likely to grow their businesses bigger.
By having a well-connected mentor, you will be able to increase your network more easily and will be more likely to be presented with opportunities such as sitting on business or investor boards.
For example Meredith helps women by getting them invites to top events, introducing them to angels and venture capitalists, nominating women as speakers, and helping women network by hosting events through her organization The Collective.
See The Results of Mentorship Firsthand
Are you a female entrepreneur who’s been feeling confused about the next steps to take in your small business? Do you find it overwhelming to try and figure out everything small business related by trial and error? Do you feel like no one really gets what you are going through?
You aren’t alone. Join other female entrepreneurs who have mentors and make a plan for success.
Visit mentorshipbc.ca today to find a mentorship program that’s right for you.