We've been hosting group mentoring sessions once a month for about a year inside Simply Club. This is a free benefit to our micro business members that has had such an important impact for those who attend.
But what it group mentoring?
My professional body, the EMCCUK, uses this definition, “Mentoring is a learning relationship, involving the sharing of skills, knowledge, and expertise between a mentor and mentee through developmental conversations, experience sharing, and role modelling. The relationship may cover a wide variety of contexts and is an inclusive two-way partnership for mutual learning that values differences.”
This is a brilliant way to describe what should be a positive, inspiring & uplifting experience for both the mentor and mentee.
There are several ways to create a group mentoring environment. It could be there there are multiple mentees in the group with one mentor. Another option is that there's one mentee with multiple mentors or there's the peer mentoring type of group, where everyone in the room has something of value to share to build skills, experience and knowledge for everyone in the group.
At Simply Club, we go for a hybrid approach in that I'm the mentor for our members, but I positively encourage others in a session to share their wisdom for the benefit of us all.
It might be easy to a some what some of the benefits of this type of support would have for micro business owners and I've shared 5 of the best here:
Feeling connected & supported. Micro business ownership, by it's definition, is often quite a solitary business. With possibly up to 8 employees, as an owner and even with a small team around you, you're likely to be the one person in charge of all key decisions, business development and day to day operations. That's a lot to take on for one person, one nervous system and one brain. By simply being with a group of people who are travelling the same journey as you, you can feel less isolated and more in community. As humans, we thrive when we're in relationship with other humans we trust.
New perspectives. If you're a micro business owner working alone, it's easy to get stuck with a challenge or possibly even a spiral of negative feelings. It's easy to only approach a situation from one angle. By bringing these challenges to a group setting and opening up thinking to new light, we're able to create real breakthroughs, renewed confidence and better problem solving.
Becoming Jack or Jill more than master. It's often said that a micro business owner needs to be a 'Jack (or Jill!) of all trades' in order to compensate for the lack of capacity in the business. In some ways this is true. Although it's vital to delegate and contract the best people for all your key tasks, it is important to at least understand and have eyes over all areas of your business. Group mentoring allows us to step away from our comfort zones to learn new skills from book keeping to marketing and everything in between.
Bond with a network. There's nothing like feeling part of a great gang that you can trust. If a mentoring group is regularly hosted (ours is once a month) , then folks are able to build long lasting relationships that lead to skills swaps, doing business together and finding new friends along the way. Micro business owners need each other for website, graphic design, accounting, marketing, making and much more - what better way to find the right people to help.
Gentle accountability. We are our own bosses with possibly only the dog to keep us on track. To realise our visions and stay connected with our purpose, who doesn't sometimes need some additional motivation, a little nudge to be brave or a mini deadline to keep the momentum? Often inside our group, we ask each other what we'd like to have achieved by next time. This is often just enough gentle accountability to help us take a leap or keep going.
If you're looking for group mentoring as a micro business owner, then take a look at Simply Club and what we're doing to help transform more lives through micro enterprise. It might also be worth checking out the EMCC UK website for tips on mentoring, finding approved mentors and to grow your understanding about professional practice.