MentoringMany mentors don't see themselves as mentors. They find that they drifted into it, realising that at some point they stopped taking suggestions and directions and they started providing that support to others.

Anna Pino, CEO of Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre, a business primer for start-ups and high growth businesses says this can be challenging on many levels.

"Some mentors feel they have enough problems in their own business and don't think that they can make the commitment of giving advice to others," says Ms Pino.

"They also often question whether they are in fact qualified enough to give advice."

Ms Pino says Lighthouse's experience of running a mentoring program that pairs experienced 'seniors' over the age of 50 with entrepreneurs of all ages has brought them face to face with some of these concerns.

"They don't realise how helpful sharing their experience and 'war stories' are to new emerging entrepreneurs until they enter the program and see the difference they can make," said Ms Pino.

Ms Pino believes there are four things even the most reluctant mentor should know that will help them share and guide and make mentoring a rewarding experience for both mentor and mentee.

  1. Teach it differently – the main benefit of the mentoring relationship is the opportunity to tap into the mentor's life experience, learn from their successes and mistakes and look for transferable skills. Each mentor has a way of imparting knowledge that's comfortable for them. This can be through stories, through working on a problem together or even through gentle humour.

  2. Embrace opposites – in many cases mentors are selected because they have complementary skills. Mentors need to accept that their mentee might see the world in a completely different way. That's why mentors often find they learn from the relationship as well.

  3. Encourage connections – One of the benefits of mentoring for both mentor and mentee can be the exposure to new ways of thinking as well as new people. New networks open up to mentors and mentees alike.

  4. Understand the mentoring process – mentors need to be clear about expectations at the get go and be clear about how much time they can commit, when they can be contacted, how often and whether in person, by phone or email. There should also be a clear exit point to the mentoring arrangement. Managing the expectations of mentees can be the hardest part of the relationship.


About Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre
Lighthouse has a strong track record of supporting entrepreneurs, researchers and inventers on the path from concept to commercialisation. Since July 2008, Lighthouse has worked with over 990 distinct enterprises and provided group and peer based services to over 3400 enterprises and individuals. For over five years Lighthouse has successfully delivered business advice, education, mentorship and networking opportunities to help these businesses commercialise their ideas and grow their companies. Lighthouse also delivers programs such as the ACT Microcredit Program for the ACT Government. Visit for more information.

Photo:"Tamworth - art in subways - Peer Mentors" by Elliott Brown