Being a mentor can breathe new life into over-60s

Can age 50-plus talent build profitable mentoring-as-a-service businesses? Yes, because they are already doing it. And there aren’t enough mentors to address the demand.

Imagine the impact of this vast group sharing their deep industry knowledge, proven skills, real-world expertise, solid communications skills and desire to nurture younger people or peers in their careers.

Of course, most of us think of mentoring as a gift of time and knowledge — the work of generous, successful leaders in their companies or fields. They ‘take someone under their wing’ to advance their mentee’s careers. It’s often the mentor’s way of paying it forward to younger workers or peers out of gratitude for those mentors who helped them in their careers. Perhaps that’s what the majority of mentoring looks like. The key is that mentoring offers big value to mentees across all industries.

For example, studies indicate that most millennials would like to have mentors, to improve specific skills as well as for career advancement guidance. A case in point is that 63 per cent of millennials say their leadership skills need improvement, according to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey. One of the most effective ways to improve those skills is via mentors due to the personalised counselling and invested relationship. Executives benefit from mentors as well. A Harvard Business Review article revealed that 84 per cent of “… CEOs credited mentors with helping them avoid costly mistakes and become proficient in their roles faster.”

Are millennials, executives, self-employed professionals or employers willing to pay for this service? Yes. Why? Not all leaders or managers want to set aside the time or have the motivation to serve as long-term mentors. There just aren’t enough mentors to go around and in smaller organisations there may be none. It’s often said that you get what you pay for and that paying for a service adds commitment to a business relationship. This has been a contributing factor in the rapid growth of professional coaches and advisers.

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By the way, there are differences between mentors and coaches or advisers, even though there’s considerable overlap in what they do. Mentors tend to establish long-term, open-ended, multi-faceted, relationship-oriented connections with their mentees. They focus on sharing their specific industry or work knowledge as the core of their services. Coaches and advisers typically focus on a more prescriptive basis to help with specific decisions, directions, opportunities, skills, challenges, tasks, etc. They typically offer more general counselling services that are not industry specific.

That said, there is no reason why you cannot build a business mentoring younger people or peers in your field if you’re qualified for it. Mentors can sign up on platforms such as PivotPlanet that charge mentees by the hour for you and HerBusiness that charges multiple session package fees for you. PivotPlanet connects people around the world looking to “…enhance their current job skills with expert advisers working in hundreds of fields.” It offers one-on-one video and phone (VoIP) sessions with the option of in-person mentorship with some of their advisers. At HerBusiness, it’s developed services “…including finding the right mentors, expanding your network and getting the skills and promotion you need.” Another matchmaking platform called Findamentor encourages its registered mentors who charge for their services to describe themselves as coaches. It positions itself as “…promoting continuing education utilising the natural human process of mentoring.”

Fees for mentoring services range across the board, from $50 per hour to thousands of dollars per hour for well-known industry leaders. Some mentors arrange monthly retainers, which buys their mentees a set number of hours to interact.

There is no reason why mentoring cannot be a sustainable business. It’s basically the same thing as establishing a consulting business. A big benefit for older professionals is that your age and extensive qualifications can be a big advantage in the marketplace. Your passion for guiding others while sharing your wisdom could pay off with work you love.

Have you been involved in mentoring others? Would you consider mentoring as a means of increasing your income in retirement? Share your thoughts with us.