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How entrepreneurs can benefit from working with a mentor.

Ah, the Rubik’s cube. A flurry of twisting wrists and satisfying click-click-click sounds… and it’s done. It looks so easy on YouTube, doesn’t it?

Anyone who has written a business plan knows it’s not unlike the exquisite torture of solving a Rubik’s cube* The facets of your business have to be organized and described in separate units. That’s straightforward enough. Yet in fact, everything is folded and mixed together. Your marketing plan is determined by your offer, but your offer also depends on information that your marketing research unearths. On top of that, as you develop your business strategy and build your client base, some components of your initial plan seem less useful, but they’re still locked in there. Can you pull everything apart and ditch those bits? Maybe, maybe not.

Even when you really do know exactly what you have to do, even when your goals are set and your strategy is in place, there’s a lot of room for hesitation and doubt.

Other entrepreneurs could understand what you’re going through, but you wouldn’t want to mull things over aloud with anyone who might be a client or a competitor one day.

Just over a year ago, Halte 24-7 co-founder Olivier Berthiaume was looking for a mentor he could pitch ideas to – someone who could help him track his professional progress. He found, signed up to be placed with one of their mentors, and got going.

Having benefited from his monthly meetings with his mentor, and looking to diversify the events offered to our co-working members, he invited Réseau M to the Halte 24-7 for a 5 à 7. At the event, Halte 24-7 members had the chance to sit down with different mentors to learn about the Réseau M approach.

With branches in Quebec, the rest of Canada, France and Luxembourg, the group currently has 1,500 mentors. Experienced business people, they participate strictly as volunteers. Duos of mentors and mentees are referred to as “dyads”. Mentors do not share business contacts with their mentees – and are careful to make it clear that while they can offer feedback, their role is not to advise you on your business strategy.

Olivier confirms the mentors are there to listen, above all. “They don't coach you in one direction or another. They help you get your ideas together and realize whether you are being realistic or not. They work on the ‘savoir-être’ [soft skills] more than the ‘savoir faire’[know-how]. In other words, [we’re] working on an attitude more than a path or concrete actions.”

Mentees are encouraged to feel free to change mentors if they don’t quite click together, and can also determine how often they meet up, although meeting a little more frequently at the beginning is recommended, just so you can develop a rapport and confirm that you’re the right fit for each other.

If you’re engaged in solving your own entrepreneurial version of the Rubik’s cube or just benefit from thinking aloud, putting your head together with a mentor might be right for you.

Curious? Check out the Réseau M website.

* Without an instruction guide!

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