Stimulating SMME growth through mentorship

Stimulating SMME growth through mentorship

Gone are the days of having to be physically present to link mentor and mentee. In fact, connectivity is the very essence of digital or virtual mentorship. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, organisations were exploring ways to take mentorship to a broader audience, allowing greater connectivity in various business networks.

"With small and medium enterprises emerging as the backbone of our economy, it is vital that entrepreneurs and small business owners are guided, nurtured and mentored."

The handing down of knowledge via storytelling and oral traditions is an age-old custom – one that continues to thrive in the modern era, but in many and varied formats. Small businesses that are struggling to find their focus, create strategies, develop talent and hone their offerings can benefit now more than ever from the advice of mentors.

Similar to the way that the youth rely on the sagacity of elders, small business owners rely on the guidance and examples of those that have gone before and succeeded, to find their way in a sea of opportunities. The responsibility to teach and mentor falls squarely on the shoulders of experts in their fields.

But how do small businesses gain access to the wealth of information, knowledge and experience of stalwarts in their industry?

The digital epoch has catalysed access to shared wisdom like never before. Digital platforms are perhaps the best way to make content available to those who are thirsty for knowledge.

Digital Mentorship

Gone are the days of having to be physically present to link mentor and mentee. In fact, connectivity is the very essence of digital or virtual mentorship. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, organisations were exploring ways to take mentorship to a broader audience, allowing greater connectivity in various business networks. While one-on-one, in-person training is certainly engaging, it is, in many ways, restrictive.

Time and geographical constraints limit access for both the mentor and the mentee and don’t allow the variety of options that digital mentorship does, options that now even include access to multiple and varied mentors. After all, careers in the present age are multifaceted and mentees may require more than one form of guidance.

There are several ways that digital mentorship can be implemented, from webinars to YouTube videos, and apps to emails.


Over the past twenty years, the web has become an invaluable device for knowledge-sharing. Whether live or on-demand, webinars allow mentors to teach, advise and share with a multitude of participants from all over the world.

According to HubSpot, viewers in 2020 watched triple the number of webinars than they did in 2019 and the global webinar market is estimated to reach 800 million by 2023, strong evidence that webinars are in demand and hugely beneficial to viewers. Mentors who tap into the potential of webinar tools can inspire, drive and empower entrepreneurs in an engaging and provocative way because they have a captive, interested audience wanting to learn from them and able to do so remotely.


Videos that live online allow mentees to access the content at any time. YouTube has become an extremely popular content repository and mentors on the platform even have their own channels.

It is important when creating YouTube mentorship content to ensure that your videos remain engaging, always keeping the purpose of the video in mind and using tools such as titles and subtitles to underpin messaging.

One of the greatest advantages of YouTube is the analytics that it provides. Content creators can measure viewership, click-throughs, time spent viewing, subscriber growth, demographics and audience retention to name but a few.


Statistics show that app downloads shot up by 23.3% during the pandemic. With the advent of remote working and unprecedented mobile engagement, apps are a tool that all businesses can leverage to their advantage and the advantage of their employees.

Whether it’s using Zoom to engage with mentees, MicroMentor to connect small business owners with business mentors, WhatsApp to chat or Slack to create shared work environments, making mentorship accessible is easier than ever before.


Mentorship isn’t a one-way street. The most successful mentorship programmes allow for learning and engagement. It’s also not a one size fits all and each mentee is a unique individual with specific needs and wants. Customised email communication, whether following up on a session, checking on progress or presenting new material is one way to make sure that every individual in a mentorship programme feels seen, heard and nurtured.

Mentorship going forward

Leaders in large organisations and captains of industry have a unique opportunity to pass on their wisdom to up-and-coming entrepreneurs and small business owners. And small business owners can tap into this wisdom through the power of digital systems.

According to, 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if they had mentorship programmes in place and 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentorship experience. So, there’s no question that mentorship isn’t merely a nice-to-have, it’s an essential tool that does and will continue to contribute to the success and growth of small businesses.

Feedback and Continuous Improvement

Customer service is not solely about addressing problems but also about actively seeking and implementing customer feedback.

  1. Listen to their suggestions, concerns, and preferences to gain valuable insights that can drive innovation and continuous improvement.
  2. Use customer feedback to refine your offerings, enhance processes, and tailor your business to better meet their needs.

This iterative approach ensures that you stay ahead of the curve and consistently deliver exceptional service.

Long-Term Business Growth

Ultimately, exceptional customer service contributes to long-term business growth. By prioritizing your customers and providing an outstanding experience, you foster loyalty, generate positive referrals, and attract new customers. Sustained growth is not just about acquiring new customers but also retaining existing ones. By consistently delivering exceptional service, you build a solid foundation for your business to thrive and expand.

Exceptional customer service can be achieved by following these key principles
  1. Active listening: Pay full attention to your customers and truly understand their needs and concerns. Show empathy and ask relevant questions to gather all the necessary information.
  2. Clear communication: Use a friendly and professional tone in all interactions. Be concise, avoid jargon, and ensure that your messages are easily understood. Always respond promptly and provide updates when needed.
  3. Personalisation: Treat each customer as an individual and tailor your interactions to their specific needs. Use their name, reference past interactions, and offer personalised recommendations or solutions whenever possible.
  4. Going above and beyond: Strive to exceed customer expectations by taking initiative and offering additional assistance. Anticipate their needs and provide proactive solutions or suggestions that add value to their experience.
  5. Problem-solving: Approach customer issues with a positive mindset and a commitment to finding a solution. Actively seek resolutions, involve the necessary resources, and communicate the steps being taken to address their concerns.
  6. Continuous improvement: Regularly seek feedback from customers to identify areas for improvement. Actively learn from customer interactions and use this knowledge to enhance your service. Embrace a growth mindset and constantly look for ways to enhance the customer experience.

Remember, exceptional customer service is all about making customers feel valued, heard, and satisfied with their experience.

Key Takeaways

Customer service is not just a department within your business; it is a mindset and a commitment to excellence. As an entrepreneur, understanding the importance of exceptional customer service is crucial for your success.

By prioritising customer satisfaction, building trust and loyalty, differentiating your business, resolving issues, seeking feedback, and fostering long-term relationships, you create a strong foundation for growth.

Embrace the art of exceptional customer service, and watch your business flourish in the competitive marketplace.

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