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Why Mentorship Matters + Funding Tips for Women Entrepreneurs

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Quilt host Zeina Muna explains why it's important to seek out a mentor, and shares tips on how to get started. To join a Quilt chat with a leader like Zeina, click here.


There are several different ways to approach mentorship, whether you're an entrepreneur seeking advice, an experienced person looking to share, or an employee looking to deepen your relationship to your work and your professional community. Whatever way you approach it, however, there's no denying its importance. Among entrepreneurs and professionals, mentorship is consistently touted as a crucial piece to the success story.

Zeina Muna is the director of business development at iFundWomen, an organization that works to facilitate funding and investment for women-owned startups. In her role, she mentors women on how to obtain the dollars that primarily — and consistently — tend to favor white male-owned businesses. For Zeina, the relationship between obtaining funding to get a business off the ground and mentorship is inextricably linked.

Zeina says that a whopping 48 percent — almost half — of the women she works with say that a lack of available mentors and advisors hold them back. Companies like iFundWomen are one approach to the solution. Others are more individually-based.

"Co-working spaces, communities, and organizations specifically for women, like Quilt, all help to break down those barriers that leave female entrepreneurs feeling isolated and disconnected from their resources," she says.

Finding a Mentor

Zeina believes that most women are naturally social creatures — and it's likely that that percentage increases when considering success-driven or professional women specifically.

Seeking out a mentor isn't just about the benefits; she says—"it's absolutely critical that you don't attempt any growth journey alone."

A mentor doesn't have to be a completely formal arrangement. Zeina likens a mentor to a professional "bestie," who hones in on the professional aspects of your life. This ranges from conversations about your career or business path to advice on what to invest in.

"Really," says Zeina, "you are looking for peers, people who have done what you are about to do, as well as people who have not yet started the journey." That's right — Zeina recommends having both mentors who are more experienced AND less experienced than you. "You can absolutely learn from both," she says.

In no way is this limited to fellow women. "Rather than considering the gender of the mentor," says Zeina, "it's more important to have a mentor that's in your industry or knows very well the particular challenges you are currently facing."

Still, there's something to say about seeking out advice and professional community from and with other women. Most women, Zeina says, are good connectors. "There are lots of opportunities now to get advice from other women through a community — whether it's IRL or virtual," she says.

A Personal Mentorship Journey

Zeina has several people in her life that she considers to be mentors. "I have a couple of go-to people that I talk to about my trajectory on a periodical basis, and I have people that I look up to and follow without them even knowing it," she says. It's important to remember — especially when considering online interactions — that you can absolutely learn from others without them knowing your story.

Group conversations — like Quilt chats and gatherings — are a great way to find mentors, and to flex the muscle of being a mentor to someone else, says Zeina. She considers this to be a major secret in the mentorship process. "Sometimes listening is the best way to learn," she says. "If someone is asking for help, absolutely give it — but sometimes we can help each other in ways that are more subtle and invisible."

Mentorship Bonus: Tips for Women Seeking Funding from Zeina Muna

  1. Don't go looking for VC or angel investment until you have solid proof of concept, proof of demand, and a successful working MVP (minimum viable product).
  2. Crowdfunding can be a low-risk, highly-efficient path to getting your startup, small business, nonprofit, or side hustle off the ground without going into debt, and without giving up equity.
  3. Practice a confident and results-based pitch before having a conversation with an investor.
  4. Get advice from other women who have been through the process — utilize all the coaching and mentorship you can get from others!

iFundWomen is helping to close the funding gap to female entrepreneurs by guiding them through their fundraising journey. For more information, click here.

Quilt is a mobile app that offers a deeper sense of connection in the modern world by making it easier for women to come together for real conversations online and offline. Download the app and join us for a chat, gathering, or house party!

3 Min Read
Lifestyle

Tempted To Dial Your Ex: 5 Ways To Know Whether Or Not You Should Contact An Old Flame

Thinking of ringing up your ex during these uncertain times? Maybe you want an excuse to contact your ex, or maybe you genuinely feel the need to connect with someone on an emotional level. As a matchmaker and relationship expert, I was surprised at the start of the coronavirus quarantine when friends were telling me that they were contacting their exes! But as social distancing has grown to be more than a short-term situation, we must avoid seeking short-term solutions—and resist the urge to dial an ex.

It stands to reason that you would contact an ex for support. After all, who knows you and your fears better than an ex? This all translates into someone who you think can provide comfort and support. As a matchmaker, I already know that people can spark and ignite relationships virtually that can lead to offline love, but lonely singles didn't necessarily believe this or understand this initially, which drives them straight back to a familiar ex. You only need to tune into Love Is Blind to test this theory or look to Dina Lohan and her virtual boyfriend.

At the start of lockdown, singles were already feeling lonely. There were studies that said as much as 3 out of 4 people were lonely, and that was before lockdown. Singles were worried that dating someone was going to be off limits for a very long time. Now when you factor in a widespread pandemic and the psychological impact that hits when you have to be in isolation and can't see anyone but your takeout delivery person, we end up understanding this urge to contact an ex.

So, what should you do if you are tempted to ring up an old flame? How do you know if it's the wrong thing or the right thing to do in a time like this? Check out a few of my points before deciding on picking up that phone to text, much less call an ex.

Before You Dial The Ex...

First, you need to phone a friend! It's the person that got you through this breakup to begin with. Let them remind you of the good, the bad and the ugly before taking this first step and risk getting sucked back in.

What was the reason for your breakup? As I mentioned before, you could get sucked back in… but that might not be a bad thing. It depends; when you phoned that friend to remind you, did she remind you of good or bad things during the breakup? It's possible that you both just had to take jobs in different cities, and the breakup wasn't due to a problem in the relationship. Have these problems resolved if there were issues?

You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you.

Depending on the reason for the breakup, set your boundaries for how much contact beforehand. If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

If you know you shouldn't be contacting this ex but feel lonely, set up a support system ahead of time. Set up activities or things to fall back on to resist the urge. Maybe you phone a different friend, join a virtual happy hour for singles, or binge watch Netflix. Anything else is acceptable, but don't phone that ex.

Write down your reasons for wanting to contact the ex. Ask yourself if this is worth the pain. Are you flea-bagging again, or is there a friendship to be had, which will provide you with genuine comfort? If it's the latter, it's okay to go there. If it's an excuse to go back together and make contact, don't.

Decide how far you are willing to take the relationship this time, without it being a rinse and repeat. If you broke up for reasons beyond your control, it's okay. If your ex was a serial cheater, phone a friend instead.

If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

As life returns to a more normal state and you adjust to the new normal, we will slowly begin to notice more balance in our lives. You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you. Some do's and don'ts for this time would be:

  • Do: exercise ⁠— taking care of you is important during this time. It's self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: shower, brush your teeth, and get out of your sweats.
  • Don't: be a couch potato.
  • Don't: drink or eat excessively during this time. Again, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: think positive thoughts everyday and write down the 3 things you are grateful for. Look at the impact of John Krasinksi's SGN. It's uplifting and when you feel good, you won't want to slide backwards.
  • Don't: contact a toxic ex. It's a backward move in a moment of uncertainty that could have a long term impact. Why continue flea bagging yourself?