For entrepreneur Jo Burston, finding a business mentor was key to the success of Rare Birds, an organisation dedicated to creating change and opportunity for women in entrepreneurship.
“I can say, with hand on heart, I probably would not have been as successful without a mentor,” she says.
“I saw someone who I identified with personally. I wanted to walk in a journey or pathway that that person had done many times. He was already at business number seven and had exited hundreds of millions of dollars worth of companies. I was fascinated as a business person to understand how that happened and what experience he had doing that.”
In today’s episode of Xero In, Jo speaks to co-hosts Jeanne-Vida Douglas and Rob Stone about her journey from mentee to entrepreneur.
In 2013, Jo travelled to Australian schools, asking young girls what they thought an entrepreneur was. The very few that did described an entrepreneur as “a man” – with one sole student supplying Oprah Winfrey’s name.
“I talked about business and entrepreneurship. But they really didn’t know what it was. When I explained to them what an entrepreneur really is, they thought that the business of being in business was a man’s job.
“The only entrepreneurs they could name were Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and one named Oprah Winfrey.”
Shortly after this, Rare Birds was born – from Jo’s determination to inspire more girls and women to become entrepreneurs.
So how do business mentors inspire their mentees? What are some of the keys to a successful relationship? According to Jo, mentors need to teach – not just tell – those they are advising.
“I think that’s the really clear distinction between a business coach and a mentor. Because a really great mentor actually just shows you how to find solutions, not what to do. For me they pointed me in the right direction to then get me enabled to find and solve the problem myself.”
Small business resources:
- TEDtalk: Modern mentoring: The good, the bad and the better – YouTube.com
- Small Business Guide: Seven business lessons from entrepreneurial women – Xero.com
- Blog post: What separates entrepreneurs who succeed from those who fail? – Xero.com
What would you like to hear?
Got a topic you’d like to hear discussed? Or a business expert you admire and would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments below!