Mentoring Q & A with a veteran entrepreneur
August 13, 2019
Our Operation Entrepreneur provides veterans and transitioning Canadian Armed Forces members with the training, tools and resources they need to build confidence, develop networks and start their own businesses. In addition to providing introduction to entrepreneurship workshops and seven-day intensive business boot camps, we recently added a robust mentoring program to our offering – linking veteran entrepreneurs to mentors who are successful entrepreneurs or established business professionals.
We sat down with Leendert Bolle, a Canadian Armed Forces veteran, graduate of our boot camp and owner of Hero Dog Treats, to learn about his experience as a mentee.
Why did you decide to get a mentor?
“I choose to get a mentor, primarily I think, due to a lack of confidence. I was unsure of when to do things and how, but having a sounding board gave me the opportunity to draw out my ideas and ask ‘am I on the right track?’ ”
What has been the most beneficial?
“Running my ideas by my mentor and them encouraging me, gave me the confidence that I was moving in the right direction, and pushed me to implement these ideas sooner than I would have on my own.”
“For me to have a mentor, I would say its been extremely beneficial in the growth of my business and to have a business that is sustainable over time.”
What is the most important thing to remember as a mentee?
“As a mentee, the most important thing is to be open to critique and open to suggestions and to learn from the mistakes other people have made, choosing not to make them yourself. I find as a mentee, the mentor doesn’t often tell me something I didn’t already know, but tells me at a time when it is important for me to implement or practice that strategy.”
Why would a veteran entrepreneur benefit from having a mentor?
“In the military system, because of the chain of command, you always have someone you can ask questions or go to for advice. In civilian life, you’re generally alone. Having a mentor means you can have that person you go to ask questions and to provide guidance.”
“Mentoring is a must have. It’s the missing piece of the puzzle for me and my business. The Operation Entrepreneur program gives you the foundation to build upon. Afterwards though, you need to have someone to lean on and to ask whether you’re on the right path. That’s a great business decision.”
Mentors provide business advice as well as support and encouragement to help entrepreneurs remain focused on what is important for the success of their business. The mentoring program runs over six months with the mentor and the mentee each committing 2-4 hours per month on the relationship.