Add teaching to mentoring. As a minority business owner, Edwards regularly encounters less experienced minority business owners to mentor. But it’s not enough to have an occasional lunch with a mentee. Edwards believes mentors should take more of a teaching role rather than simply allowing mentees to pick their brains. She also thinks mentors should look for weaknesses in a given business and help mentees overcome them. “It needs to be like a Shark Tank experience where people who know their stuff say, ‘That doesn’t make sense.’ The mentor should help fix what’s wrong and then help you put it back together so that you can succeed,â€ she says. Mentoring should also promote the pursuit of success in other areas of life. For example, Edwards regularly asks business owners about their aspirations. “If you’re going to mentor, do so with a focus on building up the person before building up the business,â€ she says.
Provide financial resources. Rather than simply giving BLAC Sheep advice, Edwards offered practical support. She provided expertise to help them organize the business networking event, with service that can cost upward of $8,000. Everyone should look for opportunities to invest in black-owned businesses, she says. “If you really believe in a business, put your money where your mouth is.â€