Five mentoring tips from an award-winning business mentor

Five mentoring tips from an award-winning business mentor

Posted: Wed 17th May 2023

Harrogate-based Jo Smith, founder of, collected the Innovation Award at the recent National Mentoring Matters Awards. Recognised for her work supporting businesses as part of the government's flagship Help to Grow: Management Course, Jo has won national praise for the outstanding contribution she makes to the West Yorkshire business community.

Jo is a highly qualified professional mentor who specialises in human resources and people. She was one of eight peer-nominated Help to Grow: Management mentors and participants to be nominated as part of the new awards, launched for the first time this year.

The National Mentoring Matters Awards celebrate the dedicated work of thousands of active voluntary mentors who help businesses put the lessons from the Help to Grow: Management Course into practice. The course offers small businesses a total of 50 hours of leadership and management training across 12 weeks, with the government covering 90% of the costs involved.

With all her knowledge, experience and expertise, Jo is well placed to offer guidance on how business mentors can get the most out of their mentoring relationships. Here are her top-five tips.

Top mentoring tips from Jo

1. Know what your mentee wants

Aim to understand what your mentee is looking for by being in business. What do they want to achieve with the wealth they're creating?

  • Are they seeking significant wealth for themselves?

  • Are they aiming to secure their family's financial future for generations to come?

  • Do they want to regenerate their local community?

  • Are they keen to invest in education or research and development for the future?

  • Do they want to carry out philanthropic activity? For employees? For a community? For a cause?

2. Get trained

Mentoring without training is simply giving advice. It might be sound advice based on your own excellent experience.

However, without being trained as a mentor you won't know how to best tailor that advice for the mentee's benefit. Ultimately, they need to be able to apply your advice to their business and getting trained will help you to help them to do that.

3. Show respect

A small business is usually very personal. If the business has been owned by a family for several generations, that heritage often becomes even more precious to the individual owner.

Respect the owner's confidentiality and their business's history, because often it's inextricably linked to their family and means a lot to them. That generates all the complex emotions that only families can!

4. Commit to yourself

Make a commitment to further your own continuous learning and development. This might be in the form of courses, podcasts, reading or networking. If you're going to be the best mentor you can be, it's important that you continue to grow yourself.

That will include a "safe supervision space" where you can work through ethical dilemmas as well as hone your skills and reflect on mentoring with the support and guidance of someone else, who will treat you and your work in confidence.

5. Learn from your clients, for your clients

Every time you work with a new client, you're indirectly gaining from all that person's experience. In this way, you're able to go into many industries and sectors and to work with many different kinds of leaders who face a multitude of challenges.

If you gather all the cumulative experience of your mentees together, you'll really have a fantastic offering for all your future mentees.

Relevant resources

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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