Being an entrepreneur can be pretty lonely. It is challenging to come across the right person to generate a peer mentoring relationship and learn from one another. In other words, peer mentoring within startups is a challenging task.
However, what is peer mentoring? It is referred to as a relationship in which two company employees collaborate regardless of their senioritis. Often, one of the parties has more experience than the other.
The main objective of peer mentoring is to share knowledge, complement one another, and find new possibilities and solutions to challenges (1). It also includes emotional support and other challenges founders often face in their entire entrepreneurial journey.
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Peer Mentoring Has a Huge Impact on Startups’ Growth
As an entrepreneur, you will probably have to spend hundreds of hours preparing a startup pitch, securing funds from angel investors and venture capitalists. While these activities are important, data over the past few years suggests that founders should also spend a notable amount of time on something often overlooked: peer mentoring.
It is a simple strategy that can significantly increase your company’s success odds.
Back in 2015, TechCrunch conducted a study (2) to analyze the secret behind the success of New York’s tech sector, now among the top ten tech hubs worldwide (3). The goal of their study was to investigate how local tech companies became so successful.
The team combined data from LinkedIn, AngelList, and Crunchbase and interviewed more than 700 founders.
TechCrunch found that multiple characteristics we often taut as predictors of startup success, like starting a business from a college dorm room, don’t make much difference (4). Apart from multiple startup myths, they found several other intriguing habits of successful founders and startups.
Their analysis of top-performing companies in NYC’s tech sector highlighted that several entrepreneurs leading these startups had strong connections with founders of other successful companies.
And among all connections, one of the most powerful they concluded was peer mentoring. Top-performing entrepreneurs like Etsy’s Chad Dickerson (5) and Flatiron Health’s Nat Turner (6) have received mentorship from other successful founders such as Flickr’s Caterina Fake (7) and AppNexus’ Brian O’Kelley (8).
More importantly, the benefits of peer mentoring are not limited to entrepreneurship. Studies in other areas have also shown that good mentors can improve the overall performance of their protégés.
Also, there is a distinction between the performance of companies with successful mentors and businesses that lack them. It indicates that the value of effective mentorship is especially high for startups (9).
How is it Any Different From Traditional Methods?
Peer mentorship is a type of experience sharing that encourages collaborative work dynamics. It offers people the chance to receive and offer advice and learn from each others’ experiences and previous training.
When you build your career with peers, it offers you a chance to share your outlooks and perspectives from a similar standpoint. You can work collaboratively with someone with similar interests, stakes, or objectives, boosting confidence and offering a well-rounded skill set.
Moreover, when you get the opportunity to experience being on both sides of mentorship, the mentor and the mentee, it helps build a more balanced and comfortable learning environment. It would also offer the chance to exercise leadership skills and gain new ones simultaneously.
On the other hand, while learning from more advanced or experienced leaders has its own benefits, as in the case of more traditional mentorships, it can be intimidating and unnecessarily stressful.
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Benefits of Peer Mentoring
There numerous benefits of implementing a continuous peer mentoring process, including:
- Strengthening the Contacts’ Network: Being a part of a community alone won’t help you create any interpersonal relationships. Instead, develop real bonds by going into more in-depth conversions about everyday issues.
- Exchanging Feedback: When it comes to peer mentoring, it is not only about talking about problems and receiving advice; it is also about seeing how experience can contribute to solving the issues of the other. It will help you create an open mind and analyze the possibilities for businesses you probably did not consider before.
- Shorten Your Learning Curve: When you listen to others’ experiences, mistakes, and situations they may have already experienced, you can shorten your learning curve and know how you can avoid such potential pitfalls.
- Creare Life Learning: The value you will learn from mentors is invaluable, content rarely found in any course or book.
How to Make the Most of Peer Mentoring
Peer mentoring is a more common term in the corporate world. It is part of programs often used by HR to promote a formal and structured way for its collaborators to have more effective transition levels with more significant leadership and knowledge.
However, apart from few studies, only a little has been said about peer mentoring in the startup ecosystem (12).
It is where the power of community becomes important. It has a huge impact on startups’ growth. There are numerous communities you can find around government institutions, investment funds, and accelerators (13).
Below are three keys you can use to build effective relationships with mentors:
- Mentor Quality Matters: It is not enough to have mentors only. If you wish to have your company be successful, you will need mentor/s who know how to get there.
- A Sustained Relationship is Needed for Good Mentorship: You will need to be in contact with your mentor constantly. Notably, all new founders joining Endeavor’s network receive advisory boards made up of multiple mentors who meet with the founder at least once a quarter.
- A Great Mentor Focus on Critical Business Issues: Founders need to utilize their mentors’ skills to the fullest. Mentors can be business individuals. Hence, it would be best to use their time and expertise in the areas where it will do the most good.
Applying Peer Mentoring
There are no limits when it comes to creativity. Often even something as simple as a coffee break can also work. In other words, you can promote peer mentoring proactively via generating meetings regularly with people who can contribute knowledge.
If you wish for something more structured and you feel there are no people on the internet who can help you, several companies offer these services and allow access to peer mentoring groups.
Notably, most of these communities offer these services. It makes this option ideal if you wish to expand your network of contacts and understand in a structured manner, so you know how to carry out such sessions to get the most out of it (14).
What else do you need to consider when participating or organizing a peer mentoring session?
There are three primary points.
First, you need to know how to listen and select. You must receive all feedback positively and with an open mind. There are several experienced people who can be very similar and can be of excellent help.
At the same time, there would also be others that are not. Therefore, you need to remember that these conversions are only about possible paths you can take. There would be nothing and writing, and in the end, each founder decides what’s best for their business.
Secondly, don’t forget that the whole point of peer mentoring is offering and receiving, especially when it comes to entrepreneurship. No matter how simple your idea may sound, it would help if you always tried to contribute to others. You may end up opening the mind of someone else, which can lead to a series of benefits.
It is one of the keys for today’s startups to be a part of a community, especially as they allow making contacts to grow business, making great allies to find investment opportunities, and even talent hunting.
Multiple private networks are like an access point for most startups. You can search for them according to the country, industry, maturity level, fee, paid, etc.
Top Platforms for Mentorships in 2021
Mogul is a worldwide platform that claims to have impacted more than 146,000,000 people across 195 countries. In addition to mentorship, as a member, you can also gain access to their award-winning courses for comprehensive skill-building.
It is a mentoring platform that connects mentees across the globe to industry leaders and professions in marketing, entrepreneurship, sales, data, engineering, design, and more. MentorCruise is an excellent choice for those looking for personal mentorship focused on their own goals, preferences, and budget.
CareerKarma – For Programers and Tech-heavy Individuals
CareerKarma was started to help people become versed in software engineers and other tech-related roles by connecting them with the related coding boot camps and offering them long-term, consistent support.
It is a tech and programming-heavy mentoring platform. Hence, a viable niche choice for those in the industry looking to enhance their career.
Clarity is a popular mentorship platform for one-on-one expert consulting. You will get the opportunity to gain valuable advice and answers on this platform. You can choose to be either a mentee or mentor by signing up and verifying your socials. Notably, even Mark Cuban is only the platform (15). However, he charges about 167 USD a minute.
It is a trustworthy mentoring platform that gets startup and marketing mentors on board solely on an invite-only basis, betting their on-paper credentials and reviewing their proven experience. You can grow your career on GrowthMentor by getting advice from peers who have already played the game and now wish to help others.
The Muse is probably one of the most prominent platforms on this list, with more than 50 million users. It is more than a mentoring platform; it aggregates resources relating to career growth advancement. The platform offers multiple programs, including streamlining employer-job seeker channels, offering optional private coaching, and sharing career advice from seasoned professionals.
It is a non-profit online mentoring software platform geared for corporate mentoring programs, economic development agencies, small business development organizations, and entrepreneurial foundations.
The platform allows flexible administrative control via personalized project management, resource support, and consulting for a successful mentoring solution. Notably, companies like Calvert Foundation, HP, and even the US State Department uses MicroMentor as a unique tool for mentor engagement.
Read Also: Can Indian Startups Compete Globally?
The role of mentoring in startup entrepreneurship is invaluable.
We see a wide gap in aspiring young entrepreneurs; there are many outstanding ideas and enthusiasms. However, most of them are unsure where to start or who to talk with to build a successful company around that idea.
It is time universities start stepping up their game; help students learn the basics for commercializing their business idea.
And even if you have business partners, investors, and even board members to bounce ideas off, they all have a stake in the business. There is a huge value in finding an independent source for entrepreneurial experience sharing.
That’s where peer mentoring also plays a huge role. You can be frank, have open discussions, no pressure, and no vested interest at stake with a mentor. After all, peer mentoring is about sharing experiences to allow the mentee to take specific values, resonating for them.
You can apply the learned lessons without any plan, further building more genuine relationships and learning methods.