Who do you go to for advice and support? Who do you bounce business ideas off of? Who pushes you to think bigger?
If you don’t have an answer to these questions, maybe it’s time to consider peer mentorship.
Peer mentorship is a way for entrepreneurs to discuss their goals and challenges, and learn from each other. Unlike a traditional relationship between an experienced mentor and a more junior mentee, peer mentorship takes place between people who have similar levels of expertise and similar concerns. Having a peer group of like-minded people provides emotional support and encouragement, while providing access to a variety of ideas and perspectives.
Without a strong network, entrepreneurship can be isolating, and at times lonely. Being surrounded by your peers in a safe and supportive environment can be really valuable to both you and your business.
Here are five benefits to joining a peer mentorship group:
- You might find out flaws in your strategy. Even if you have a business partner or employees that you can brainstorm with, there is a benefit to gaining an outside opinion. Peer mentors provide a fresh perspective and this allows you to realize potential problems with your strategy and make changes. “Other entrepreneurs have a special insight and mindset that is hard to find. They willtell you what may not work and provide unbiased feedback. They are not your customers and they are not your competitors. The entrepreneurial group allows you collaborate on ideas,” says Shannon Lenstra, President of Kon-strux Developments Inc., and an alumni of AWE’s peer mentorship program.
- Create more holistic long-term plans. With a peer mentorship group you receive a higher level of feedback on your business planning, and you get to hear a variety of perspectives. With more people to bounce ideas off of, you are less likely to have gaps in your decision making.
- They can provide you with the confidence to push forward, and to fail. No entrepreneurial journey is without mistakes. Being surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs can boost your confidence and encourage you to seize opportunities, without being held back by the fear of failure.
- Build long-term relationships. Unlike a contracted business advisor or consultant, peer groups build community. Many entrepreneurs maintain relationships with those in their peer mentorship group long after the formal program has ended.
- They don’t just care about your business, they care about you. Running a business can be stressful at times, and other entrepreneurs understand that! A peer group can provide that emotional support and allows you to talk openly with people you can trust.
How do you find the right group for you?
Talk to other entrepreneurs in your network, and ask them if they’re in any groups and what their experience has been like. Inquire with various entrepreneurial service providers in your community and see if they offer a group of their own, or if they can recommend any for your stage of business.
Finding a good fit might take some time and you might have to try a couple groups out before you commit to something. If you’re interested in a peer mentorship program aimed at women entrepreneurs with a strong desire to grow their businesses, be sure to check out our program. Applications for fall intake are currently being accepted.
Already have peer mentors? Share your best tips on finding mentors in the comments!