Principles of mentoring and coaching in entrepreneurship education

Today, no one will be surprised that an entrepreneur is a profession, and starting and running your own business requires systematic knowledge, tools, and skills. Although often start-up entrepreneurs are convinced that it is enough to know the field and work, and a little more luck… But about this in another text.

Modern entrepreneurs have unlimited access to knowledge on virtually all aspects of entrepreneurship, but in fact so much knowledge and tools, and so little time that sometimes the flow of information, even the most useful, you can just choke.

Students of the Small and Medium Entrepreneurship School and other business schools often say that the lack of time and the search for the right solutions immediately encourages learning in the relevant programs. That is why entrepreneurship education is necessary, but its forms and methods have their own characteristics. And the most acceptable approaches of today are the training format of training and mentoring.

What does this mean in practice?

Training format

This type of training for entrepreneurs involves live interactive interaction with the audience, development of tools, finding answers to questions, and ways to achieve goals directly in the learning process. The vast majority of English-language dictionaries write that training is about acquiring skills and that training in business is always expensive.

But, in my opinion, it will definitely be cheaper and faster to learn to use tools in the process of getting an education than to learn from your own mistakes. The task of the teacher, the trainer is not to present all the information on the topic, but to make sure that the most important skills and systematic approaches will be mastered.

It is better in a group to identify the competitive advantages of a product or test a business idea, get immediate feedback during training, and for some reason learn by hearing the experience of colleagues in the audience than to do it alone for months.

During the week, the students of the SME School change their approach to doing business in the process of developing tools in the classroom. Just this month, one of the students at the School in Kharkiv abandoned the idea of ​​opening a network of coffee shops, instead of focusing on the production of semi-finished products for catering establishments. He evaluated the idea, the capacity of the market, the search for new opportunities right during the training and it’s great because it saved a lot of effort and resources, both money and time. Training often brings a quick, sometimes immediate effect.


Another approach is mentoring or coaching. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a mentor as a person who provides a less experienced person with help and advice over a period of time. Why does an entrepreneur need a mentor?

An entrepreneur can be a very lonely person. Not in the sense that he has no one to communicate with, but because he is responsible for his own business, and to ask for advice or simply talk about the decision with anyone.

Here it is worth contacting a mentor for a number of reasons:

  • mentor — a person who has more experience and knowledge that will allow the entrepreneur to reduce the path of obtaining them;
  • goal setting and achievement — a mentor can help define clear goals, and respect for them will stimulate their achievement;
  • healthy criticism — a mentor can give constructive feedback on the actions and decisions of his ward, and this is invaluable;
  • going beyond. More mentor experience — more opportunities. We live in a routine and usually see opportunities according to our mental models and beliefs, which does not allow us to look beyond the horizon or turn back in any other way. The mentor can open up these new “out-of-frame” opportunities;
  • networking, which means creating and maintaining relationships with people who can help in the professional and social spheres, in careers, help in doing business through networking and communication. Experience and recent research show that live communication helps to establish stronger relationships.

The teacher can also be a mentor, ready to listen to the listener and help with advice. Today, I help more than 50 of my former listeners and students, tell them how best to act in certain situations, what new opportunities exist, sometimes give harsh feedback, sometimes not.

And most importantly, we agree on the next steps. And this approach works. Moreover, it is a great honor for me to be a mentor. At the same time, I also have a mentor, whose opinion and help are extremely important to me.

There is often a situation in SME School groups where more experienced entrepreneurs become mentors for less experienced ones. This is how they find friends and sometimes partners.

I had an interesting conversation with my friend more than ten years ago at the beginning of my teaching career. He said that teaching is a choice, either you choose the directive style “I’m a professor, I know everything” or you become a mentor, coach, and friend. I chose the style of mentoring and did not regret a single moment. At the same time, in my opinion, it is necessary to recognize that being a mentor is a great honor and responsibility, the main thing is not only to help but also not to harm…

And when we talk about both coaching and mentoring, it is worth recognizing that we are talking about joint interaction and involvement of both parties. After all, this is what will give a productive result.