Hello, November! At The Venture Center, an attitude of gratitude is our practice year-round, but the season gives us a pointed opportunity to reflect on the generosity surrounding us.
The state of Arkansas, our community partners, program volunteers and participants have fueled another year of supporting entrepreneurs and innovation through education, collaboration, and acceleration, and we’re thankful. November is also Global Entrepreneurship Month, a dedicated time to join other Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs) to amplify the power and opportunity entrepreneurship brings. And while ESOs can provide much-needed access for entrepreneurs to everything from business resources to skill-building workshops, it’s the connection to mentorship that may be most needed today.
Entrepreneurship requires hope, grit, tenacity and resilience, and we’re lucky enough to work with people every day who are strengthening those very qualities. Since March of 2020, together we have endured a time of stress, disruption, grief, rebuilding and then started over to do it again. It’s a given that this has fundamentally altered everything about our lives and businesses in ways that we can’t yet measure. What we do know is the workplace is undergoing a tremendous change, and forces like “The Great Resignation” and the digital revolution’s increased pace are redefining the nature of work. We don’t know what the workplace will be a year or 10 years from now, but we know that entrepreneurs will play a leading role in charting the course. Consequently, mentors are needed now more than ever.
For a mentee, having a mentor can mean the difference in an idea as a fleeting thought or an economy-boosting business. A mentor can spot strengths in a mentee that they may have never considered before, changing not only the trajectory of the mentee’s life but the lives of their future employees, the community events they will sponsor, and the customers benefiting from their innovations.
This kind of change can be proffered by those outside the realm of what a stereotypical mentor is, too. Too often, people limit themselves and don’t consider mentorship because they have preconceived notions that a mentor must be an expert or have a lifetime of experience to be helpful. Those people couldn’t be more off-base, though. Mentors can also be people who simply take the time to get to know a mentee and provide support in the best way they can.
A friend recently posted, “To inspire people, don’t show them your superpowers. Show them theirs.” Of all the memes and graphics gushing across our collective social media feeds, this one stood out because that is what mentorship is all about. Mentors don’t have all the answers and certainly don’t need superpowers, but sharing their time and support is invaluable in helping someone recognize their unique talents and areas of strength.
Connecting a mentee to people who can help with a specific problem, being a confidant when things are particularly difficult, or simply providing frank feedback with the intent to help another person grow are all needs that mentors can fill. On the flip side, though, it’s important to remember that everyone, regardless of age and experience, can benefit from having a mentor. We see it daily in our Spark! program, in our fintech mentorship programs, in VCWoman Achieve and just about every other program. Every person at The Venture Center has a mentor — or multiple mentors — they treasure and lean on for advice, guidance and growth.
During Global Entrepreneurship Month, the many paths to mentorship are center stage for Entrepreneur Support Organizations. Getting involved as a mentor or as a mentee is as easy as connecting with The Venture Center, and if we don’t have the right program or resource for you, we can connect you to the ESO that does. As we journey through what is hopefully a post-pandemic world, we know the last two years have stimulated an incredible volume of startups, entrepreneurship and innovation.
As a result, the time is right to seize the abundant opportunities to get involved with mentorship. And while entrepreneurship and mentorship continue to rise, we’ll continue to hold tight to an attitude of gratitude for entrepreneurs and the mentors helping guide them.
The Venture Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. Find out how to get involved at www.venturecenter.co.