Women Entrepreneurs: Helping Other Women Succeed

Are women more or less likely to help others of their gender get ahead at work? A Catalyst study done earlier this year asked both men and women about the kinds of mentoring and assistance they’d received. Overall, more than half (59 percent) had received either informal or formal mentoring.

mentoring women

What’s interesting is that women who had been mentored were more likely than men to be “paying it forward” to the next generation of emerging leaders at work. Sixty-five percent of women, vs. 56 percent of men, were doing so. And 73 percent of those women were mentoring other women.

The Catalyst report focused on executives in big corporations (the men and women were all MBA grads who had been identified as having “high potential” before earning their degrees). But I believe the value of helping other women applies, whether you’re an employee or an entrepreneur.

First, there’s financial value. Catalyst found both men and women who mentored others earned an average of $25,075 more between 2008 and 2010 than those who did not, even when the study controlled for other factors. For employees, helping others achieve clearly leads to greater career success and consummate rewards. But for business owners, mentoring others so they achieve more also leads to greater financial success for your business.

Of course, for entrepreneurial women, there’s also loyalty at stake.

Think about it: An employee who gets support, encouragement and guidance from you about how to improve in his or her job is more likely to be loyal to your business, rather than ready to bolt at the first opportunity.

Finally, and maybe most important, for women business owners mentoring isn’t just about mentoring your employees. For us, mentoring the next generation of leadership also means looking outside our own businesses and encouraging young women and girls to learn more about entrepreneurship.

I was fortunate to have entrepreneurial role models in my family—my dad, who owned a small business, was a huge influence in my life. But “entrepreneurship” was a word you barely heard when I was a kid. And even now, when young people are acutely aware of entrepreneurial role models like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, most of the focus is on tech startups, where women are still underrepresented.

There are many ways you can be a mentor and role model to younger women. Involve your daughters or nieces in your business. Find a younger entrepreneur you connect with through social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Or get involved with an official organization like Junior Achievement or the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

The coolest thing about mentoring younger people is while in the past, the relationship might have been more one-way, today’s young women have a lot to teach older entrepreneurs about technology, social media and more.

If you get involved with mentoring, you’ll gain as much as you give.

Mentoring Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

11 Reactions
  1. Well written. I liked the part: “There are many ways you can be a mentor and role model to younger women. Involve your daughters or nieces in your business.” It’s so important for the younger generation of girls up and coming. Thanks for the article.

  2. One of the secrets of success for all small business owners is finding a good mentor. Good article. Looks like women are better at it than men.

  3. Nice article, thank you for mentioning the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization(CEO). We are working hard to find the perfect mentors for our budding entrepreneurs and are still looking for more entrepreneurial students and mentors.

  4. Rieva
    Your posts always provide new perspectives and expand our horizons. At Springboard we find that mentoring is a 360 degree opportunity. Our coaches find that they derive as much benefit from the relationship with entrepreneurs as the entrepreneurs do. Win Win.

  5. Love this topic Amy. It’s so important to feel you are supported as an entrepreneur and my mentor has absolutely provided that for me. To have that person I can sound ideas off and discuss progress with has really helped me to make progress and be accountable to the goals we have agreed upon.

  6. This is an excellent article, you have done a good job with this subject matter. Loyalty amongst women is an awesome trait, and helping instil this quality in the younger generation through mentoring is one of the best ways to ‘pay if forward’. Thanks.

  7. Mentoring is an essential key to success as a female entrepreneur. Thank you for mentioning it in your post.

    Keep on inspiring!

    Stacie Walker

  8. Hi Rieva,

    You’ve written another great article. Mentorship is a vital component to building a successful business, especially in the younger generation. I’m 26 and I run a internet marketing blog / consulting business. I’ve benefited greatly from many mentors that I haven’t even met face to face but have still learned a great deal from by watching the way the structure their business.

    Thanks for sharing your insights on this topic with the community. I appreciate it!


  9. Mentoring is not only for the young. I facilitate a round table of highly accomplished business women who mentor each other. Each woman in the group brings a unique set of skills and knowledge which they share to help each other in their respective businesses. It is very gratifying to watch how these women assist each other in their business and personal lives.