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Paying off in the end.

Mentoring--the new buzzword in the small business community

Mentoring begins with a vision. The business owner who envisions taking his company to the next level while improving his performance and that of his employees is what the mentoring process is all about.

Currently funded through the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Chattanooga Housing Authority contracted with Setina Pouengue, owner of two mentoring companies, Success by Design, a $150,000 enterprise providing mentoring in the bustling construction industry in Chattanooga, and Accent Specialty Baskets, with revenues of $65,000 in 2000, which employs former mentees, to teach public housing residents the fundamentals of owning and running their own businesses.

"For the student, mentoring is a risk-free introduction to a [portion] of business that he or she may not have knowledge of. It is a way to gain confidence, sharpen or renew skills, and make lucrative contacts," says Pouengue. "Most people who love what they do look for outlets to share that information and in return receive invaluable business benefits."

Dr. Linda Phillips-Jones, co-founder of the nonprofit Coalition of Counseling Centers/The Mentoring Group (www.mentoring, a national mentoring organization near Sacramento, California, shares Pouengue's opinions of the benefits, but she also understands that selling the mentor program to any size business can be challenging because the results are not going to be seen immediately.

"For the business owner mentoring pays off in the form of future business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and potential vendor opportunities through the mentee."

Phillips-Jones offers these recommendations for implementing a mentoring program:

* Determine your purpose: Do you want to find and groom new talent? Offer advancement opportunities for the future leaders of your company? Give back to your community?

* Put together a plan exploring how you will attract, train, and retain your mentee.

* Define how your mentee's progress will be assessed.

Considering the tight labor market, mentoring is a cost-effective way to develop the strengths and overcome the weaknesses in new and existing employees.

"Mentoring gives you a chance to fine-tune your people skills, articulate business goals and objectives, and assist employees in achieving performance goals, all the while fostering a sense of unity and loyalty in the mentee," says Phillips-Jones.

Resources for mentoring information:

* National Minority Business Council, in New York, a member-based mentor organization ( or 212-997-4753).

* The Women's Network for Entrepreneurial Training (WNET) mentoring program (on the SBA Website,, or 800-8-ASK-SBA).

* The SBA's 8(a) Business Development Mentor-Protege Program offers 8(a) participants the opportunity to compete more effectively and successfully for federal government contracts. Call 202-205-7337 or visit the SBA Website.
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Title Annotation:mentoring
Author:Henderson, Nancy Bearden
Publication:Black Enterprise
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2001
Previous Article:A plan for the future.
Next Article:Women's business loans.

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