‘Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg’ - Can you think of what all these successful business leaders have in common? All have received guidance from mentors; difficult as it is to believe, even the openly individualistic Apple founder looked for help and support over the years and not just from one, he credits many for his success!
Research has shown that 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more, which is double the rate compared with non-mentored entrepreneurs. A lot of people have gone further than they thought they would, only because someone else thought they could and pushed them.
Entrepreneurs, especially social entrepreneurs, have a lot of strengths – Great idea(s), Passion, Belief, Vision, Tenacity. But inevitably there are gaps in knowledge, lack of the right networks, times when you feel low and daunted by the humongous needs of a social startup- be it the lack of ecosystem, funding, finding the right product fit to be inclusive, getting traction for your radical idea or influencing the right networks. That's where mentors come in. Whether it is to advice you about your business strategy or a new perspective, a mentor can offer support for day-to-day running of the business and tips on scaling up.
Mentors can help you realise what you want to achieve and how to go about getting it. The right mentor can assist you with the basics of running your startup - Mentoring can be about providing specific subject matter expertise as also challenging ventures to see their work from different perspectives. Often the mentor provides the emotional support and is the cheer leader to carry on. Mentors provide mentees with introductions to key players and decision-makers, and provide access to people or organisations that may be difficult for startups to access on their own.
Villgro’s mentors come with an average of 20 years of experience from various industries and backgrounds. Some have headed business; some lead functions in India and globally; some have been successful entrepreneurs. ALL are committed, keen to give back, ready to roll up their sleeves, eager to spend time with the incubatees, and willing to listen and learn. We ask and assess the needs of the enterprises when they become our incubatees and then seek out the people that can most help with the requirements. We are privileged to have very senior people join us as we talk of the impact that the incubatees can create and are delighted by the time and commitment they have given.
Oxford dictionary describes a Mentors as ‘an experienced and trusted advisor’ – but Villgro mentors go beyond that. Far beyond. One of our mentors spoke every single day to the mentee to follow up and ensure motivation; one worked with the entrepreneur to build the board and the governance structure; one gave an open offer to call any time of day or night and one mentor sits in the incubatee’s office at least once a week to help build the product; one goes along for business development calls and one stood alongside in Kisan mela to sell the product to farmers! We have one mentor who helped build the financial system to create a robust dashboard and pushed the mentee to be cash positive and another who has connected the entrepreneur to local government agencies for distribution help. The list goes on and on.
So, does mentoring matter? #MentoringMatters a lot, and so, Mentors matter even more! Join us!