Choosing entrepreneurship as a profession is a time-honored tradition.
Business historians estimate the process of exchanging goods through commerce to be over 20,000 years old. But the term entrepreneur only first appeared in 1730 to describe a person taking on a new business venture.
We’d venture to say that entrepreneurship is as historic a profession as farming, construction, or any other essential trade. Starting your own company means you’re contributing to the progress of humankind, influencing how we interact and what we create.
While much has changed since the 16th century, a few entrepreneurship traditions remain as relevant today as they were then — including the practice of mentorship.
Mentorship helps new generations of entrepreneurs learn from the past and lean on a stable foundation that encourages them to take risks.
It’s also an opportunity for established business owners to give back and leave a lasting legacy through the businesses and founders they help.
Eastern Kentucky entrepreneurs interested in mentorship, this is your chance: SOAR Innovation has partnered with CORI to offer you a robust, engaging mentorship experience.
Whether you’re just starting out with your company or if you’re an established business owner looking to give back, read on to learn how you can get involved.
Get to know CORI’s Rural Innovation Mentor Network
SOAR Innovation works with the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) for a number of services for small businesses, including funding, education, and economic development.
CORI has extensive experience operating as a support network for budding startups. Their mission is to build sustainable digital economies in regions like Eastern Kentucky, where clusters of tech activity are on the rise.
CORI also believes the best economic development solutions are homegrown.
As part of their work, CORI facilitates the Rural Innovation Mentor Network to help America’s small-town tech entrepreneurs grow and succeed.
Since there’s often a shortage of local mentorship opportunities in regions like Eastern Kentucky, CORI bridges the gap with its virtual program.
How mentees can get involved
Since SOAR is a member of the Rural Innovation Network, entrepreneurs in our region have access to the CORI mentorship community.
CORI provides mentees with expertise, guidance, and network connections through its online mentor program. (By the way, if you’re an experienced business owner wanting to become a mentor, skip down a few sections to learn where you can apply.)
The mentor-mentee relationship is typically virtual, but if there’s an opportunity for a local match, CORI will make it happen.
First, entrepreneurs reach out to the Rural Innovation Mentor Network to let CORI know they want to join the program. There is a brief application to fill out.
CORI will review our Eastern Kentucky entrepreneurs’ applications and consider what kind of support they need most.
Product entrepreneurs will likely gain a mentor with a successful background in launching products. Software startup founders will ideally be matched with mentors who’ve been in their shoes, too. Factors such as personality and long-term goals will also play a role.
CORI pledges to do its best with mentor-mentee matches. Still, the final pairings will depend on the availability and timing of all parties. But rest assured — no matter their particular background, each mentor will have a demonstrated commitment to supporting rural tech startup growth. They want to meet you — and help you succeed.
Mentors and mentees will meet regularly for a set period. Dates, frequency, and duration are all agreed upon in advance by both parties.
CORI will check in regularly to review how the relationship is progressing and assist where needed.
The mentorship relationship
CORI founded the Rural Innovation Mentor Network to facilitate valuable relationships for rural tech founders. The intention is for mentees to gain access to guidance, advice, and support from a mentor with extensive experience and connections.
The most effective mentorship relationships are two-way streets. Mentors invest their time and energy into supporting their mentees. Their reward is giving back — and seeing their mentees progress.
It’s up to the mentees to take action based on what they’ve learned. While a mentor isn’t a board member — you don’t have to answer to them about every decision you make about your company — they will hope to see that mentees are open to their advice.
While mentors often have access to capital and other investor groups, there’s no expectation or promise of investment through the Rural Innovation Mentor Network.
Business owners: Become a mentor to help secure a bright future for Eastern Kentucky
The need for a strong mentor network is amplified in rural America. Between 2014 and 2019, 96% of new tech jobs were located in major metropolitan areas.
Mentors are critical to the survival and growth of tech startups. As a business owner or founder yourself, you understand the role mentors played in your ongoing success.
That’s why we need your help.
SOAR Innovation is interested in building a supportive and diverse mentor network to bring new perspectives, ideas, and opportunities to our community of entrepreneurs.
These are founders just getting their start in Eastern Kentucky. Your mentorship can help provide them with the confidence and support they need to seize valuable opportunities and grow their businesses effectively.
Your commitment can be as simple as a few hours per quarter — or as in-depth as a few hours per month.
Becoming a mentor is a great way to get involved with your small business community. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to volunteer, connect with future business owners, and give back to the next generation of entrepreneurs, you should contact us today.
Conclusion: Connect with SOAR Innovation for entrepreneurship resources
SOAR Innovation — powered by KY Innovation — is Eastern Kentucky’s #1 champion for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Our complete suite of resources includes:
- Downloadable eBooks.
- A frequently updated advice blog.
- Direct services provided by our team of experts.
Have you read the Complete Guide to Entrepreneurship in Eastern Kentucky? You’ll find templates, tools, and local resources that can help you succeed regardless of your small business goals.
Contact SOAR Innovation for more information on getting involved with the Rural Innovation Mentor Network as a mentor or a mentee.