This article defines coaching and mentoring and presents the benefits of this support for entrepreneurs from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups. It describes the various policy approaches that can be used to provide coaching and advising services to established and potential entrepreneurs from disadvantaged or underrepresented groups, and provides examples. It also discusses the elements that need to be considered when developing and implementing effective coaching and mentoring mechanisms to support established and potential entrepreneurs belonging to underrepresented and disadvantaged groups. This chapter also provides a set of policy recommendations.
What is coaching is advisory services that can be implemented in various personal and professional contexts, including in the interests of people who are considering or have already started a business. This type of support usually takes the form of a personal relationship between two people, although there are examples of group coaching (for example, collaboration between an experienced entrepreneur and a group of beneficiary entrepreneurs, whether they are new or established, or between several trainers and an entrepreneur).
For this system to be effective, it is important to establish strong trusting relationships between the people involved. In the specific case of entrepreneurs belonging to underrepresented and disadvantaged groups, it may be necessary to have skills and experience and establish specific criteria for the recruitment of trainers and mentors, such as an understanding of the difficulties encountered.
Coaching and mentoring are closely related forms of support that can be used to promote entrepreneurship. Table 8.1 shows the components of these relationships that everyone agrees with and their main differences. In the context of entrepreneurship, coaching can be seen as a personal relationship between an experienced entrepreneur (trainer) and a less experienced entrepreneur or seeking to overcome certain difficulties (student). In this context, the trainer works with the student to identify and achieve specific goals or objectives. In other words, coaching is based on close interpersonal relationships, which allows students to learn and develop their potential in the context of change.
Often this forces the trainer to encourage the student to transcend himself and go beyond his abilities in precise and quantitative points, supporting him, providing him with the necessary resources and making him responsible. Coaching often deals with difficulties associated with a company. Trainers work with the student to create a program that meets their needs, usually in the context of structured meetings, during which the trainer assists and develops additional follow-up actions, including practical work.
Although mentoring is also based on personal relationships, usually between an experienced entrepreneur (mentor) and an entrepreneur with less experience (student), mentoring is considered more general support, which mainly includes the personal development of the entrepreneur rather than his business. The mentor advice and guides, serves as a barometer for evaluating new ideas, stimulates and encourages the entrepreneur. Therefore, he acts more as an engine or guide than as a trainer.
One of the main goals of mentoring is to increase the stability of the entrepreneur by providing comfort, especially in doubtful moments. Coaching and mentoring can be seen as a form of advisory support, which can vary in intensity, from random basic advice to immediate practical support.
This support is particularly suitable for entrepreneurs from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups, as they are more likely to lack certain entrepreneurial skills and professional networks than other entrepreneurial groups. There are two main differences between mentoring and coaching. First, coaching, as a rule, focuses more on specific issues of business development than mentoring. This is why the nature and content of the support offered by coaching is fundamentally different. The goals are much more specific, and the trainer is responsible for developing an individual strategy to help the student achieve his goals. This may include exercises and practical work.