Information for Potential Mentors

What is the Growth Mentoring Service? 

The Growth Mentoring Service is an ECJC program that connects entrepreneurs with a team of skilled, experienced volunteer mentors. We use a group mentoring approach—a lead mentor coordinates a team of 3-4 mentors that meets with the entrepreneur(s) in sessions that provide practical, day-to-day professional advice and coaching. GMS mentors are selected based on their experience in areas relevant to the needs of entrepreneurs and for their enthusiasm for the program and an entrepreneur’s business. Mentors are required to subscribe, in writing, to a Statement of Principles that govern their behavior, outline their responsibilities, ensure confidentiality, guard against conflicts of interest, ensure a safe environment and control financial involvement with the entrepreneurs and their businesses. Entrepreneurs are required to request and set an agenda for each meeting. Relationships between mentors and entrepreneurs are formed based on the needs of the entrepreneur and the interests of available mentors.

 

Quick Facts

  • Exclusively for entrepreneurs managing businesses with greater than $100,000 in annual revenue
  • Comprehensive, MIT Venture Mentoring Service-certified training for mentors is provided free of charge
  • Requires a time commitment of the equivalent of one to two full days per month
  • Mentors must work with at least one team, but may choose to work with multiple teams, and are generally expected to participate on more than one team
  • Mentor pool includes experienced entrepreneurs and other executives from all walks of life, as well as industry-expert specialists
  • All communications are confidential

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to participate?

GMS offers mentoring services to entrepreneurs managing established businesses with $100,000 in annual revenue or more, who have an ambition to grow and scale operations.

Mentors are asked to apply and are vetted based on experience, peer referrals and an interview process. Maintaining a diverse pool of mentors is a priority and for that reason, GMS may decline or defer the application of an otherwise qualified mentor. Interested parties are encouraged to apply more than once, if necessary.

What does it mean to be a GMS mentor?

Our mission is to guide—not to do. We listen, coach and advise. Mentors are expected to provide candid and honest appraisals of the entrepreneurs and their ventures by pointing out options and recommending courses of action, but it is up to each entrepreneur and their management team to execute. We are volunteer advisors, not CEOs. Ultimately, the choices and decisions are up to the entrepreneurs.

Are there rules GMS entrepreneurs must follow?

GMS entrepreneurs are expected to commit to a sustained relationship with GMS and to be professional, open and responsive (coachable) to the volunteer mentors who work with them. They are also expected to provide GMS with accurate information about their business.

GMS entrepreneurs are expected to meet with their mentor team at least monthly during the first year of the program, and at least quarterly during the second year of the program. Thereafter, entrepreneurs are welcome, but not mandated, to meet with their mentor team as needed.

Entrepreneurs are expected to drive communication and priorities throughout the program and are responsible for requesting all meetings and setting draft meeting agendas.

Are there rules GMS mentors must follow?

GMS mentors are carefully vetted and required to abide by a strict code of ethics. Mentors are required to subscribe, in writing, to a Statement of Principles that govern their behavior, outline their responsibilities, ensure confidentiality, guard against conflicts of interest, ensure a safe environment and control financial involvement with the entrepreneurs and their businesses.

How do I apply?

To apply, complete and submit our mentor application form. All identified proprietary information provided by applicants will be kept strictly confidential by GMS. Any accompanying materials can be submitted to mroberts@ecjc.com. We will review your form and advise you if additional information is required; we will contact you to schedule an interview. After the interview, you will be notified of your application status. Before working with any businesses, you will receive MIT Venture Mentoring Service-certified training.

In signing, you acknowledge that as a GMS mentor you are working with an entrepreneur on a volunteer basis, and that ECJC and you as a mentor incur no liability in the process. Each accepted mentor applicant will be matched as soon as practical. Mentors may participate on more than one mentor/entrepreneur teams, and are generally expected to do so.

How does the mentoring process work?

Once mentor training is completed, you will be invited to attend monthly mentor meetings organized by the ECJC GMS staff, where you may volunteer to work with entrepreneurs accepted into the program and their businesses. Every business is unique in its status, needs, trajectory and priorities. There is no set process; each mentoring session is necessarily custom crafted based on each entrepreneur’s needs.

To begin, lead mentors will be asked to conduct an introductory meeting with an entrepreneur to assess needs and priorities before the mentoring team is formed. The lead mentor will present the company’s needs at an upcoming monthly mentor meeting, where a team of 3-5 mentors will be formed.

There is an ebb and flow to session activity. There may be times with multiple intensive sessions over a short span of time to help crystallize strategy and plans. There may also be times when meetings are less frequent as the venture executes those plans.

Mentors should be on call to respond with advice in a crisis; available for consultation by phone, email or in person. Mentors should take an interest in their mentees and their success and get to know their needs, including personal situations. Strive to develop a personal and trusted relationship.

What does a lead mentor do?

The lead mentor acts as the primary interface between GMS and the mentee, ensuring that the venture is moving forward and that GMS staff and other mentors are aware of any significant developments. This role includes conducting the initial assessment meeting, monitoring the venture’s activities and calling upon personal and GMS resources to best aid the entrepreneur and the business.

How are mentor matches arranged?

The formation of a relationship between a mentor and entrepreneur is purely voluntary. The mentors assign themselves depending on their interests or areas of expertise. Though GMS is responsible for matching appropriate mentors and entrepreneurs, the decision to form a relationship remains with the prospective mentor and entrepreneur.

On occasion, GMS may not have appropriate mentor resources or accepted entrepreneurs and may have to decline or defer a request for mentoring assistance or participation on a mentor team.

Who is behind the GMS?

The Growth Mentoring Service is a program of the Enterprise Center in Johnson County and it supported by the Mid-America Angels investment network, the Women’s Business Center and the Women’s Capital Connection. GMS is funded through the generous support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

If you would like to support the GMS financially or with institutional resources, please contact mroberts@ecjc.com

 

If you have additional questions, please contact mroberts@ecjc.com.