The Critical Phases of Mentoring: Mowgli Lays Bare Startup Challenges

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Here The Mowgli Foundation, a not-for-profit mentoring organization, offers a powerful exposition of the challenges that an entrepreneur faces during different stages of building a business. From the initial start-up phase, to the growth phase, to the pitfalls of the “hubris” phase, Mowgli outlines how a mentor can help prevent entrepreneurs from getting tunnel vision, losing self-awareness or over-diversifying their interests. Download the document to learn more about how to approach these stages, and how finding a mentor makes the crucial difference between failure and success.



Mowgli Executive Summary

Why do so many businesses fail during start up in the first four years?

Why do so many promising businesses stagnate after the initial burst of success?

Why do the few entrepreneurs who reach the heights of success often jeopardise everything they’ve worked for by making bad decisions?


The Mowgli Foundation believes the answer lies with the specific nature of the entrepreneurial mindset and learning process. Founded by successful serial entrepreneur Tony Bury, we are a not-for-profit organisation working with entrepreneurs in some of the most unemployment-prone areas of the Middle East and the UK.

Our mission to help entrepreneurs learn and develop is grounded in our firm belief that ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ is the key for economic regeneration and lifting the world’s unemployed out of poverty. We provide mentors and a supportive network to nurture the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ at critical stages of the business life-cycle; through this, we help prevent entrepreneurs falling into easily avoidable failure traps which arise from isolation. Our mentors provide “insights” and support that enable the entrepreneur to learn.

Mapping the cognitive and social development of the entrepreneur as they grow with their business is critical to Mowgli’s work, and helps us target mentors to the most failure-prone stages of the business life cycle (described in this paper): the ‘Start-up’ stage, the ‘Growth’ stage, and the ‘Success’ stage.

We have developed, through experience and with a sound evidence-base, a model of the learning needs of small business owners, which enables entrepreneurs to take control of their development and run their businesses more successfully. The tendency of Mowgli’s successful entrepreneurs to ‘pay it forward’ by going on to mentor other young business owners ensures that the benefits to local economies are sustained and meaningful.

We believe that our approach, using volunteer mentors who focus on a long-term, personal relationship, is supported by the best academic research on mentoring and entrepreneurial learning, and that our work provides a model for permanent change in the business culture of developing economies.

The Mowgli Foundation works primarily in developing countries in the Middle East, where the need for job creation is urgent and apparent and where young, educated but poor entrepreneurs are vulnerable to economic risks and instability. Our volunteer mentors come from all over the world and increasingly come to us from the local communities in which we work. We have formed strong partnerships with NGOs, educational organisations and business incubators working to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit throughout the MENA region, and continue to do so in the UK.

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