The first two of three essential qualities a small business mentor must have are obvious: knowledge and experience. They’re so obvious we don’t need to explore them here. The third is not so obvious, but it’s certainly essential.
The third quality stems from a presumption that small business mentoring is free of charge—a presumption I wholeheartedly endorse. Those who are experienced must share knowledge with those who are inexperienced. This is how civilization advances. If the sharing can be done without charge, so much the better.
I’m of course referring to one-on-one, informal knowledge sharing, not to institutionalized mass education (schools, colleges and universities). I’m also not referring to directors, consultants, and coaches, who share knowledge as a full-time profession. I’m referring to no-charge small business mentoring, which is not a profession but a commitment. It is a commitment that necessitates the third essential quality of a mentor: generosity.