Free Business Mentoring

Published on
March 10, 2022
Time to read: 
Two people sit at a desk chatting. A mature woman is facing a younger man who is looking at her intently.
I'm grateful to the Simple Desk team who taught me how to use Canva! This image was the first "free" one available when I searched for "mentor" and Canva has a feature allowing me to match the colour of the text to colours in the image.

Mentoring is one of the greatest resources available for entrepreneurs.

On February 5 and March 5, I spoke about business mentoring in virtual events. One of the questions that struck me during the second talk was “what should we pay for mentoring?”

I believe with my entire being that mentoring should be “free.” I put free in quotation marks, because anyone interested in benefitting from a mentoring relationship should invest their time and energy to help themselves achieve their goals. I don’t think that anyone should be charged a fee to receive mentoring.

To me mentoring is when people act as trusted thought partners, helping each other out. They also celebrate each others success. Often the more experienced person is considered the Mentor, while the person with less experience is considered the Mentee.

I’m currently participating in 3 formal mentoring programs, two are with my professional associations, and the third is with a government funded program to help women entrepreneurs.

I’m a strong supporter of joining the professional associations that are related to your business and career. While you generally have to pay membership fees to belong, often one of the member benefits is a free mentoring program. 

For example, I belong to the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) which has had formal mentoring programs in place for about a decade. I also belong to the Business and Professional Women of Ontario (BPW Ontario) and I’m helping launch our first formal mentoring program BPW Ontario Women Strengthening Women.

Over the past 18 months, I’ve also been a mentor for the WE CAN Project at Queen’s University Coffee Konnections program. 

None of these programs charge mentees to participate, and none of them pay the mentors.

If you’re looking specifically for Business Mentoring and you don’t belong to a professional association or other program offering mentoring services, then I’m happy to recommend resources.

The PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise Mentor Moments program is available to all individuals whether you are a PARO client or not. To learn more about this program click here.

MentorCity, a Canadian company, offers enterprise solutions for organizations, and they offer a free program for individuals. To learn more about the free program click here.

There are also a number of organizations across Canada that offer free business coaching or counselling. I recommend that you google “small business centre” or “economic development” along with your region, to learn what resources are available near you.

I also recommend trying to work with a free coach to start. When you’re ready to invest in a professional coach, you’ll have an idea of what type of coach you’d like to work with.  

The free coaches are generally selected through a competitive process and then paid by their organization to provide you with Business Coaching. For example, I’m a part time Business Growth Advisor for PARO. PARO pays me to coach women* starting or growing their business. Most of my PARO clients are in Eastern Ontario. 

If you’re not a woman in Ontario, then you can always contact me and pay me to be your business coach directly.  Even though this is a service I offer, I still recommend that people work with a free coach first.

* PARO considers trans women to be women. PARO also welcomes 2 Spirited people, non-binary people and agender people as clients.