Business Advice

Lucy Liu: the power of mentorship in building a successful business

- April 19, 2021 3 MIN READ

It takes a village to build a high-growth business. Whether you’re going through the early startup ‘dog years’ or are now entering new markets and scaling your product suite, no one can achieve success in isolation, writes Lucy Liu cofounder of Airwallex.

That’s why I’m so passionate about mentorship.

Throughout my career, I have been fortunate enough to be guided and advised by a wonderful array of mentors – from managers during my time in investment banking, to my fellow Airwallex co-founders. Having learnt many valuable lessons (and after making a number of mistakes), it has always been incredibly important to me to give back to the startup community.

So, how do you create a culture of mentorship? And why is it so important to business success?

Never underestimate the power of your time

Think back to a time you just needed to get your foot in the door. Maybe you were fresh out of university looking for your first job, or starting your business and feeling a bit of imposter syndrome. Regardless of the situation, we can all remember someone who took time out of their busy schedule to give you a leg up.

This ethos of helping others has driven much of my career so far. I’ve always tried to share my time, learnings and experiences with people in the fintech industry – often through media opportunities, panel discussions and industry associations. This is particularly important when adding some diversity to what can be a one-sided discussion. For example, previously having helped startups in my capacity as an advisor for University of Melbourne’s Accelerator Program.

Whether offering time, advice or introductions, one small gesture can have a huge impact on the success of an individual and their business.

Building a give and give back culture

While mentorship has a positive impact on the individual, it also helps to set the tone for an organisation’s culture. Creating an environment that builds people up not only supports talent acquisition and retention activity but also fosters a positive workplace for everyone.

Here are 3 simple steps to creating a mentorship mindset within your business

  1. Define your objective. While any mentorship program – large or small – is designed to grow talent and improve employee performance, defining your goals will help shape the best program for your business. Perhaps you’re looking to better integrate new employees or grow talent retention in a particular business function. Before you choose your activity, start by setting out your key program objectives.
  2. Build frameworks for mentorship. The power of mentorship comes from learning from each other, not just those already deemed ‘successful’ by those around them. Therefore, it’s important to implement programs that foster collaborative learning between colleagues and teams. To keep it manageable, start small. This could be a lunch-and-learn format, peer-to-peer buddy initiative and then, be scaled up to an ongoing mentorship program with key leaders in your startup.
  3. Provide continued support and feedback. Once the program is established, the next step is to nurture progress and provide clear lines for employee feedback. Appoint leaders to drive the project forward and ensure any room for improvement is collated and addressed. This way, your program will grow with your business and change as your needs do.

For mentorship to flourish, business founders and leaders must work to bring each other up and create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their experiences and challenges. This way, we can all learn, improve and give back to the next generation of business entrepreneurs.

Want more? Get the latest coronavirus news and updates straight to your inbox! Follow Kochie’s Business Builders on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Now read this

Five reasons every business owner needs a mentor

KBB Sales and Marketing Workshop