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Grainne Carey


Dr. Briga Hynes

Working Title of Thesis:

Understanding the mentoring process engagement by novice entrepreneurs and their mentors and critiquing the potential of a start-up’s learning and business development through informal and formal mentoring


There is a high failure rate of new start-ups and one of the main reasons for this is the lack of experience and competency of new entrepreneurs. It is clear from the literature that novice entrepreneurs tends to have specific and individual expectations and needs according to the nature and stage of their business. In this regards Mentors play a particularly crucial role in supporting a fledgling business.

Mentoring can provide much needed support at a critical phase in the new start-ups development entrepreneur’ and is seen as one of the most effective guidance relationships in the context of entrepreneurship. Available literature points to the benefits of mentoring intervention at both the pre-start and start-up stages of a business. However, research has demonstrated that entrepreneurial mentoring can sometimes blur the boundaries between consultancy, business advice, and mentoring, which changes the usually accepted parameters of the mentoring process and that the unique training needs of new entrepreneurs are not sufficiently considered in the design of general support programmes.

It is imperative that the mentor’s expertise, experience, and availability to perform the mentor role are all important to the success of the mentoring relationship. In particular, mentors should be able to adapt their approach according to the needs expressed by the novice entrepreneur.

The potential benefits of mentoring however go beyond business management skills. Effective mentors provide tools and whilst also providing psychological support which bolsters the mentees' confidence.

In the case of Irish start-ups, the vast majority of mentors are provided by State agencies both directly and, in many cases, in conjunction with business incubation centre partners. In the case of existing SMEs, mentors are provided by a combination of SME support organisations and State agencies.

This research looks at the different aspects of the mentoring process; addressing mentor/ mentee engagement; development of the relationship; effectiveness of the matching process and the characteristics of both mentor and mentee. In particular, it addresses new approaches to the mentoring process that can be submitted as changes to the Government Mentoring Policy for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation