How Mentoring Can Help Your Startup Be Successful

Getting your business off the ground is quite an endeavor. It is said that 90% of startups fail during their first 12 months of existence and those that survive, are most of the time unable to grow to a bigger scale of business, therefore staying always as a small operation and eventually dying off. Growing a business and scaling its operation to bigger horizons is probably as daunting as getting started, and it seems that there is one thing that successful business have in common when it comes to surviving the transition and that is, the use of mentoring.

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Working with a mentor is a very underutilized but extremely effective resource that entrepreneurs need to start seriously considering. For one, the numbers do not lie as about three-fourths of mentored small businesses survive more than five years, that is a rate that is more than twice higher than their mentor-less counterparts.  Mentors are also able to give you a unique perspective on your approach and help you identify common weaknesses on your business model, as they have the experience to back up their knowledge and them objectivity that comes from not being personally involved with the project.

Today in Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog we want to take a look at some of the ways mentors can help your startup and show you why these techniques are not just a gimmick, but actually an important tool you should always remember that you have at your disposal when it comes to navigating the world of businesses.

Experience is something you simply cannot buy and definitely cannot learn from reading books. A mentor is a unique source of such experience and someone who will be there on the ground with you helping you look at all aspects of the business, not simply giving you general advice that may or may not apply to you. The purpose of the mentor will always be on the road they have already traveled and how you can utilize the experiences that shaped them. This in order to avoid the same mistakes they made, and at the same time take advantage from the things they have learned.

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Another great advantage that mentors bring to the table and people often forgets to mention, is the amazing opportunity to be found in their vast network. Networking is of extreme importance nowadays and having a mentor on board means not only having their knowledge, experience, and input, but also their connections in the market and the advantage that comes from having access to a pool of people that can greatly benefit your career and be there when the need arises.

It has been proven that mentors are able to give reassurance and provide feedback that can be of great value to entrepreneurs. Having someone next to you who has already gone through the same process you are living is a great way to ease fears and instill confidence at such crucial moment in a business owner’s journey. Being confident can have a great impact in career success, sometimes more so than talent and even competence, so it is important to stack all odds on your favor and have that extra boost in morale than only a mentor can provide.

The boost in emotional intelligence a mentor can bring about is something else worth mentioning and a factor that cannot be overlooked. It is common amongst young business owners to be a bit rash when it comes to decisions or be too passionate about what they do. There is nothing wrong with passion, but when that passion is not properly focused and directed, you may make mistakes that could have been easily avoided. A mentor is there for you to add that maturity that comes from experience and help you develop solid basis and a more seasoned emotional intelligence.

If things go wrong for any reason, there is nothing like having a mentor there to help you cope with setbacks and to help you gain perspective on what the bigger picture is. Challenges are common and to be expected and that is why you must be prepared to understand this simple and unavoidable fact of life. Nobody knows this better than a person who is successful enough for you to look up them and that at the same time has been part of the industry for many years more than you, so that is why their value becomes so high at moments like this.

Do not become part of the negative statistics and know that startups are just one of the many aspects of business where a mentor can make all the difference, so trust the resources you have, make sure you go through all the steps and then nourish, experience and take advantage of everything having a mentor can do for your new business.


A basic and practical tip for improving your mentoring skills

Mentoring programs have ceased to be a novelty, and now they are becoming a trend in the organizational world. Therefore, it is essential that we all learn to improve our mentoring skills, so that these processes are increasingly effective and beneficial for companies and their workers. In this post, you will find a very simple tip that will help you build your mentoring qualities.

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One of the most beneficial qualities for the improvement of a mentor’s skills is, above all, emotional intelligence. This is so, because the main inherent condition when carrying out a mentoring program is, besides knowing the subject on which the program is concerned, being able to empathize with the mentee and transmit knowledge through a relationship of trust, in which the mentor should also be willing to learn everything the mentee is capable of teaching.

Know yourself. When somebody does not know herself/himself, she/he knows nothing at all. Being aware on your response to certain situations means you will be able to recognize how you feel throughout a day. That is basic. What things do you not support from others? What things make you feel better? If you already know what motivates you, then use that knowledge. Knowing how to answer these questions is key to helping promote the personal growth of mentees. In order to present a point of reference in terms of models of motivation, empathy and emotional balance, it is necessary, precisely, to begin by knowing yourself.

In this way, mentors would achieve to develop emotional intelligence as a tool to ostensibly improve mentoring programs. More than anything, we must emphasize a fundamental aspect. The first is, as mentioned, to work on empathy. This means being able to put yourself in the shoes of other people and contemplate reality from that perspective (especially, if you have to teach the mentee to look at things from a different point of view.)

Read also: Why is mentoring the best way to raise leaders in your company?, by Suzzanne Uhland

On the other hand, you must work on your emotional balance. All people have impulses, but emotionally intelligent people are different from the rest in thinking before acting and controlling their impulsiveness. This has a lot to do with the first point because without him this would be impossible.

It is essential that you find an emotional balance. If not, it would be unfair to you and for those who relate to you. It is good to let off steam and hit a scream in intimacy from time to time, or cry if that is what you need at that moment but do not let the emotions drag you away. Therefore, you should not repress your emotions but do not let them govern you. You are the one in control to allow or not to flourish, and knowing how to manage them is a feature of emotional intelligence.

Without an adequate emotional balance, it is impossible to advance in your improvement as a mentor, mainly because if you are not a person emotionally balanced, you cannot develop as a person, in general.

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It is important that the mentors understand that the authority that is held against the mentees is something that is constructed. It is not assumed per se. For that authority to be possible, and, therefore, the guide and transmission of knowledge from the mentor to the mentee, the latter must see in the former a model to follow; someone with a set of solid qualities. So to advance in your emotional management it is very useful to discover what your values are and analyze the beliefs that have formed you around those values. These beliefs are the filters by which you see the world and determine your way of thinking and feeling. If you want to get a higher level in your results, you have to be willing to let go of some of your old ways of thinking to adopt new ones. If to perform this task, you need support consider the Coaching services.

Always remember the following tips:

  • Recognize your true feelings, especially your fears and desires.
  • Channel your feelings for making choices and reaching your goals.
  • Turn the anger into productive energy and use it to fill yourself with it.
  • Look for the positive side of negative feelings: Yours and others.
  • Go ahead to go beyond your comfort zone in terms of your commitment.
  • Recognize your principles and what really matters to you.
  • Show empathy, understanding, and acceptance towards the feelings of others.
  • Before counseling, sermonizing, judging or ordering, listen.
  • Take on new challenges

We have all had a mentor in our lives. Maybe more than one. A mentor is someone we can turn to when we need to make decisions or we feel lost (not just in the workplace). We all, to some extent, end up becoming someone’s mentors (friends, children, etc.). Become the mentor you have always wanted to have or the one you remember with such gratitude.

Recommended: How to Be an Amazing Mentor: 12 Ways to Make a Positive Impact on Others

The Most Common Mentoring Mistakes Made By Companies And Employees

Here at Suzzanne Uhland’s blog, we have talked about many times of the clear advantages of having a mentoring program set up for your employees, as well as joining one as a mentor or mentee in your organization. Companies benefit greatly when they pair up their employees and thus bring new member up to speed on the company’s practices, procedures, and goals while at the same time investing in the development of new members of the organization. If you are a senior employee, then mentoring opens up a door of opportunities in a whole different way, by giving you the chance to learn skills that perhaps were not relevant during your own training and that are common with today’s younger generations, or also by helping you enhance your own leadership skills in a real-world environment.

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It is clear that the advantages are many and for everyone involved, but then again we have to talk about the most common mistakes organizations and individuals make when putting together, maintaining and participating in a mentoring program. Mistakes and wrong dealings when it comes to mentoring can develop to become difficulty seeing the advantages of the relationship, benefiting from being part of a mentorship and even result in the failure of the program itself.

These are some of the most common mistakes made when it comes to mentorships.

Sometimes even great mentors fail because they forget to do things such as reframing challenges in a way that can be easily understood and properly assessed by the mentee. Our frame of mind is something crucial when it comes to finding ways to deal with obstacles as things may seem impossible to solve and predicaments may feel impossible from where we are standing. Reframing problems allow us to remove ourselves from the predicament and literally find a new approach. A great mentor knows this and sometimes that is what sets them apart from the rest. Forgetting about reframing or simply tackling issues without changing our frame of mind is a big mistake in mentoring and one that even experienced participants easily fall into.

Another big mistake in mentoring happens when mentors simply give out the answers to mentees. Finding solutions is about coaching individuals and helping them reach conclusions on their own for the most part. A good mentor is not a person who solves issues for you; instead, they guide you and help you find the answers on your own while helping you stay on track while a goal has been set and a plan has been hatched.

The problem with giving a mentee the solution to their issue is that we are literally taking away from them the opportunity to grow and learn from experiences. The job of a mentor is to facilitate such learning opportunities and not to take them away from their mentees.

A great way to mentor is to ask questions. Instead of telling them what to do, have them answer questions about why they haven’t done something yet, thus making them really think about what is it that is stopping them from taking risks or to analyze aspects that they may have not considered before.

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As a mentee, one of the biggest and most common mistakes is choosing a mentor that is too similar to you. It is very comfortable to talk to someone with your same background and way of thinking, so developing that kind of relationship will be naturally easy, however, it isn’t recommended to avoid contrast when it comes to mentoring. You will learn the most from partners that are of a different gender and background because you will be exposed to a whole new spectrum of experiences that can enrich your own. Think also outside of your chain of command and go for someone who is not your direct supervisor so you can avoid conflicts of interest. Be bold and brave and get out of your comfort zone.

Another mistake mentees make has to do with asking for advice that is too general. Always be specific about your questions, about the issues that worry you and about the advice you want to receive. It is normal to not be clear about your needs at first, but finding out is part of the experience.

As an organization, one of the most common mistakes people make is wrongly pairing participants. Sometimes this is done at random and that spells out a recipe for disaster. Remember that not all senior members are willing to participate in mentoring, so this shouldn’t be something that is imposed on people. The trick is to find people who are excited about the opportunity to teach others and partner them with employees who have interest in advancing their professional life and goals that can benefit from receiving help from others with more experience.

The last and probably the most important mistake companies make is that they forget to follow up and supervise their own mentoring program. That could mean the end of the program itself, easily.


The Best Tips For Making Your Mentoring Relationships Successful.


Mentoring relationships are rich alliances in which both parties bring their best to the table in a joint effort to come out a better version of themselves at the end, not only professionally but also personally as well. As with most relationships, this is hard work and it requires practice and dedication in order to make the best out of the experience. Both parties must be willing to conform to the rules, to be honest, and forthcoming and to give their best effort when it comes to receiving advice and also giving it when needed. It is more common to see senior members of the organization paired up with much younger executives who want to take advantage of their experience so they know how to navigate the waters of career advancement. It isn’t different when it also works the other way around, when senior members utilize the skills of their mentees so they can learn about aspects of the business that they are not familiar with; things like technology, new trends and the evolution of the business itself towards places that are different from what they are used to.

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Today in Suzzanne Uhland’s blog we want to talk about some advice that can be useful for both mentors and mentees by helping them truly appreciate their mentoring relationship and learn from the mistakes and lessons that others have learned before from them. Remember that even if you look at mentoring as a bond in which someone takes the time and effort to guide a junior employee, that doesn’t mean the mentee is out of the hook when it comes to being responsible for giving back in this symbiotic partnership.

For mentors

Be an active listener. Listening is more than just sitting there and being quiet while the other person goes on about their life, their observations and postulate questions. Active listeners sit up straight, engage the speaker and annotate the information they receive so they can come back and review it. Using non-verbal language is extremely important in this engagement exercise and it works two ways: not only it allows you to show your mentee that you are interested in what they are telling you, but also it helps you process information in a way that gives you the best chance to answer back with insights that are truly useful and on point when it comes to advising for the best course of action.

Part of being an active listener also has to do with actually listening and trying not to talk so much. Some mentors believe that their job is to tell stories and illuminate their mentee with their particular clever insight on every situation. While this isn’t entirely wrong, you must know how to balance your speaking with your listening, as you need to make the right assessment as to how you can help, and how you cannot. Encourage independence and understand that your way of doing things may simply be one of the many ways out there to get things done. Personal anecdotes are great, but they should now take up all of the time you have together. Try listening and allowing your partner to talk so you can get a better read of what is going on and how you can help out.

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For mentees

Understand that most of the work has to come for you. You have to know that you are primarily being benefitted in these relationships and while you do bring a lot to the table if you do your part, there is a component of sacrifice and compromise that you must always keep in mind. Mentors are busy people who take time out of their days to share their knowledge and experience with you, so be sure to take responsibility for making the relationship work.

Keep in mind that your goals have to be clear and it is your job to define such goals. You must know what you want in order to achieve it, especially when you are consulting with someone as to which is the best way to do so.

Be curious and inquisitive at all times. You cannot be helped if you are not interested in what you are doing and a mentor will be motivated when they see you trying to improve. Always write down questions before sessions so you can talk about things that are important and you are not there just wasting the time of all parties involved. Make yourself available for your mentor and always make sure that you meet deadlines and keep appointments. Be honest and open about your doubts and trust the person you chose as a guide since they are a reflection of your projection for a better professional career and the advancement you want to reach as an individual. Always have a positive attitude and understand that being better requires a lot of hard work.

Everything You Need To Know About Mentoring Millennials

Those who were born between the years of 1977 and 1997 are today considered over half of the workforce in the world, and in many companies, they are the overwhelming majority indeed. Millennials have a very different way to look at work, as they no longer feel that is an aspect of life that must be balanced with the other activities that constitute their existence, instead they see their employment as an important part of who they are and thus they look for work that they find empowering and personally fulfilling. Having these types of expectations from their work doesn’t come by itself as they also expect their job to afford them the opportunity to meet new people, network and tap into a higher purpose. That last point is probably one of the most important factors that create a key difference between this generation and the ones that came before them and it is the main reason why we want to focus on this article here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog.

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One of the first things to keep in mind is the fact that while millennials have very high expectations of their employees, they also set very high standards for themselves, mostly because they are used to surviving such a competitive environment that hosts a large population of young professionals with relatively few good positions in the job market. These conditions also mean that unlike any other generation, they expect their companies to be part of their path to success and expect much from partnering with mentors, an opportunity that can be quite fulfilling for all parties involved and for the organization in which the relationship develops.

Letting go of the traditional mentoring models is a great starting point for partnerships today. Normally the human resources area of sets up these programs and then pair together young employees with senior executives. They agree upon periods of evaluation to check progress and pretty much leave everything on hands of the mentor who is not only responsible for producing results but also for setting up a method to gain such results. The problem with this programs is that they are very generic and do not take advantage of all the potential that is coming together from both sides of the table. Millennials want to be more involved with the entire process and be active participants in their own mentoring.

For this type of people, is it important to work alongside those individuals they admire and whose position in the company they want to occupy one day. This is why it is so important for companies to ensure their senior managers are deeply involved with the mentoring programs and that they ensure these leaders are engaged and willing to participate.  

Reverse mentoring is another key aspect that comes into play when mentoring millennials in today’s workplace. We have mentioned in numerous occasions that successful mentorships should not be a one-way street, but instead work in a way that there is a mutually beneficial relationship with two sets of shoulders carrying the burden of responsibility and reaping the rewards that come along. Reverse mentoring identifies skills that are not so common in senior executives but that younger professionals possess, and create an environment in which a proper exchange of ideas can develop.

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Group mentoring is another great tool at a company’s disposal that can open the floor up for some great opportunities for sharing information. Senior executives can be assigned to groups of individuals interested in mentoring, or even a pool of candidates can engage in some peer-to-peer mentorship in which the group as a whole identifies goals and clearly highlights areas of interest. One of the best advantages of this approach is the fact that is less resource demanding and it gives a lot of control to those involved over the decisions they want to make when it comes to their career and the direction in which they want to steer towards.

All of these approaches offer their own sets of benefits and can help those involved reach their goals at different rates and with different levels of success. The most important thing in these cases is being able to empower employees and make them feel like they are part of the process, give them a chance to participate and give back to a company that takes the time of set up mentoring opportunities and more important of all, allows them to improve upon their leadership skills, something that many consider the most beneficial aspect of mentoring. Millennials are people who understand the value of great leaders and who are adventurous enough to take on these roles personally and carry on with courage and drive towards fulfilling their roles at the workplace. We can sum up by saying that flexibility and trust are the most valuable assets a company can provide when it comes to mentoring for a younger generation of professionals.

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Why people in the business world need a mentor?

When trying to start or impulse a business, many people start asking themselves questions like “how can I be successful?” or “is this the right way to do things?”. When this happens the recommendation is always the same: find yourself a mentor.

Finding a mentor is as important as having a great business plan. This happens because being able to nurture your business with the experience and advice of someone who has proven to know that it’s doing, is key to success.

No matter how good you did in school, how many people you know or how much potential you have if you don’t know how to use the tools at hand, your odds of succeeding decrease considerably. This (among other reasons) is why it is so important for individuals in the business world to find a good mentor.

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In this article, Suzzanne Uhland will share some reasons why it is crucial for people to find a mentor.

1 . It has been proven

The recommendation of finding a mentor in order to have better results in the business world is not a mere subjective opinion. According to Steven Berglas, from Forbes Magazine, studies show that those who have a mentor are proven to be more successful than those who never get one.

2 . It has no cost

What? Having a mentor is free? The answer to this is “yes, it is”.

Many people may find this hard to believe. But, a mentor is different than a coach and it doesn’t charge a dime. It is not about an insufferable case of generosity, it is about gratification for both the mentor and the mentee.

Usually, those who become mentors are already successful in their business field. They don’t need to be paid for the service they provide. Mentors do their job with a sense of serenity and gratification, knowing that they are contributing to the creation of a better world.

Besides all this, mentors tend to create a personal bond with their mentees. For this reason, the importance they give to their job, the love they have for their mentees and the knowledge they have to pass isn’t for sale.

3 . Relationships are personal

This is another item that many people may find hard to believe. This happens because most successful businessmen are well-known for being ruthless, and not giving a dime for others.

However, this is not entirely the truth. Actually, it is not even true for the majority of individuals in the business world, especially when it comes to mentorship.

Relationships between mentors and mentees are often personal. Mentors choose their mentees or vice-versa based on affinities or common interests. Sometimes, these relationships star without even knowing they are taking place.

A good way to illustrate this is the knowledgeable professor you met in business school and helped you boost your entrepreneurship. Or that experienced boss who looked after you when you were first starting to create your own company. All these people become part of their mentees’ lives and influence them in a personal and professional way.

4 . Inspiration is important

A mentor is an example to follow, and inspirational figure. They represent what any businessman wants to achieve. This is one of the reasons why finding a mentor is vital for a business to succeed.

Picture yourself as an entrepreneur who is struggling with many things. You still don’t know if you will make it to the next month and you wonder if what is happening to you has ever happened to anybody else. Then you look at your mentor and listen to its story. Suddenly, you find yourself in front of an individual who had to deal with countless ups and downs and succeeded in the end.

Mentors motivate entrepreneurs to keep moving forward. They become the inspiration we all need to succeed. They help us solve problems in a creative and useful way. They are also individuals that we respect, therefore, we are willing to follow their advice all the time.

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5 . Firsthand information and experience

It is not very likely for a person to be able to learn from the experiences told in books about how its business should be managed. Mentors are key to learn from the practice and not just the theory. They help you go through new situations and motivate you to learn about numerous subjects all at once.

A mentor is the voice of experience and knowledge. It is the best source any individual in the business world has to investigate about what may happen to its business or how to react to a difficult situation.

A mentor is not going to take a parental position. But, it will work as the perfect guide for the perfect situation. It will provide the necessary advice and recommendations to any situation that needs to be taken care of. Prove to this is that, all good mentors where once mentees.

Mentoring: A key tool for talent retention

Any organization that seeks to maintain its competitiveness must seriously consider the issue of talent development and management, especially as regards a clear problem of our time: Employees, especially those of the new generations, do not usually stay in the companies they work for a long time. This involves a series of expenses in time and in money (especially when it comes to training processes,) and it really represents a problem for a large number of organizations around the world. One of the measures that may be implemented to deal with this problem is mentoring. I will first analyze the problem of human talent retention, and then I will get deeper into what mentoring can do to provide intelligent solutions.

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The flight of talent has its origin in the mishandling of human resources which has been made from the management of organizations. The lack of understanding leads to the abandonment of thousands of jobs a year. The reasons for the flight of talent are sometimes ignored by the managers themselves who prefer using imperative leadership methodologies, more typical of the old times, in order to imitate the successes of their predecessors.

Still, it is necessary to understand that the world has evolved since then, and the old models are now historical records for the new generations, which point to circular forms of management, based on internal communication and the promotion of labor well-being. Ignoring the adaptation to the new models of human capital management may lead to a serious problem, which not only impacts the future of the company but, on a large scale, would mean a threat to the global economy itself.

The old forms of leadership are outdated and must give way to the new generations based on communication and mutual understanding between leader and worker. Millennials are the generation that opens the door to change. This generation is providing a continuous evolution to improve this and to adapt to the new forms of management for the coming generation, which is eminently digital. At present, the motivation to work, the fact of achieving a good working weather and the family conciliation are the key aspects to get the workers involved in the corporate culture. The philosophy of work of the present century has its roots in the happiness of employees: A happy worker is a productive worker.

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Now, mentoring is a key tool to retain the best-qualified staff of companies. However, even though it has several benefits, it is extremely important that you learn how to use it and implement it correctly. This strategy is related to progression, growth and professional challenges. It consists of a process through which a more experienced person, the mentor, teaches, assists, offers possible paths and contributes to the personal and professional growth of the mentee by investing time, energy, and knowledge. Mentoring, besides being a catalyst for the continuous learning process in the company, shortens the learning curve and is useful for structuring the training that takes place in the workplace. However, it is necessary to know the process well, as the benefits that can be obtained, the objectives that are pursued, and the frequent barriers for an adequate mentoring design.

Read also: Deconstructing the benefits of mentoring: Is it worth it?, by Suzzanne Uhland

Mentoring should be incorporated as part of the development strategy of people within a company and be considered as part of the values of the organization. The same workers can volunteer to mentor the new members of the company, and, during the execution of this plan, the company will be concerned with the professional development of all of them, since the mentors need to study a bit more to teach.

A mentoring program is divided into stages. First, the mentor and mentee’s expectations regarding the learning process are developed, the objectives to be attained are established, and the sessions are planned. Then, the mentor should take the reins of this process and be proactive, by learning everything he/she can from to achieve the goals. To optimize this program, the company must apply it as a tool to retain and capture talent, with the support of the management of the organization, and, in this regard, it is vital to count on enough resources of time and money.

A successful implementation of a mentoring program benefits the company since the staff feels more positive, participatory, and integrated. It usually increases its productivity, performance, and motivation, and promotes an organizational climate. Mentoring builds technical and managerial skills, optimizes the selection and development of new talent, which is recruited with high potential standards and levels of competence, among others. If you implement this mentoring plan, your employees will thank you for the concern you have for them and their loyalty to your company will rise.

The implementation of mentoring is a great effort for the organization; for each mentor and mentee. That is why the results are really stimulating, taking into account the personal and professional growth which is noticed from the beginning.

Recommended: Why retention will be the biggest Talent Challenge of 2017