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Key Idea: Give More Than Money

BizTech's director, Joanne Randolph, explains that money and time donated by successful entrepreneurs keep her doors open.

Key Question:


Give time to causes that you believe in.

Q: Why is giving time, what many would call mentoring, to a budding businesses even more rewarding than giving money?

A: Think about your investments in stocks. You probably have no contact with the people in the companies because as a shareholder you aren't invited to give your advice unless you're on the board. Being closely involved with the inventors is fun for Shatas. He develops a personal relationship and he can help his protege avoid dozens of small mistakes that can add up to big delays or even failure. This mentoring work brings enormous satisfaction especially to a very wealthy person who just doesn't need any more money.

Q: Why are mentoring relationships important within a business?

A: Mentoring in a business environment is a form of coaching and nurturing. Nurtured employees develop to their full potential, have strong loyalties to their employer, and maintain a strong work ethic. Mentoring is not cross-training or providing employees with new skills. Just as you reserve your precious time with your mentor to think strategically, to concentrate on the forest and not the trees, the time the Mentor-Protégé within the business spend together is focused on the strategic plan of the employee and how it fits with the strategic plan of the company.

Mentoring relationships within a company may be informal, formal, or both. Informal mentoring relationships should be fostered between all supervisor-subordinate relationships throughout the company, regardless of its size. We should communicate with those who report to us as mentors. This means nurturing the employee by the manner in which we speak to him or her, praising them for a job well done, and correcting them, when necessary, in a constructive manner.

Formal mentoring relationships, where a mentor is assigned a specific individual to mentor, may also be appropriate in your business, particularly if you have a key employee nearing retirement age (perhaps you) and an heir apparent within the company for the same position. Establishing a mentor-protégé relationship now forces the pair to spend some time together outside of their respective operational functions and reporting lines. It puts the corporate imprimatur on conversations between the two about the challenges of the senior position, the opportunities for enhancing its role and responsibilities within the company, and a myriad of topics that might otherwise never come up. Providing the heir apparent an appropriate venue for mining the intellectual capital of the executive about to retire will reap enormous benefit when the heir is on his or her own.

Think about it

Are you ready to help others get a business up and running? Who should you mentor? Should you be doing more to encourage mentoring among your employees?

Clip from: Avocent - From Founder to Angel

Huntsville, Alabama: Huntsville has become a hotbed for technology startups and there are dozens of people quietly investing in hundreds of businesses, providing everything from start-up capital to mezzanine funding.

They are often called angel investors. Remigius Shatas says, "My goal for Huntsville is that it becomes the most generous city in America." He wants everybody to invest in the good ideas of others!

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Women's Business Center of North Alabama

Joanne Randolph, Executive Director

220 Church Street
Huntsville, AL 35801, AL 35901

Visit our web site:

Office: 256-535-2038

Business Classification:

Year Founded:

Give More Than Money

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Shatas serves on the board of BizTech, a business incubator that offers a jump start to technology companies.

SHATAS: Because these people are my clients.

HATTIE: You mean--have you invested in some of these people?

SHATAS: Yes. On that left-hand side, I've invested in all of those, and this is the perfect place to start a small business.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Joanne Randolph is the executive director of BizTech.

JOANNE RANDOLPH: We do have a very stringent admissions process. We're looking for technology-oriented companies that are developing emerging technologies for the global marketplace. And they have to have a business plan. They have to have the beginnings of a good management team.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Its client companies raised over $2 million in year 2000, all of which is angel funding, mostly at $10,000 and $25,000 and $50,000 increments. They also produced annual revenues of almost $4 million, created 70 new jobs at an annual payroll of $2.7 million.

Not bad for a handful of start-ups.

Unidentified Man: Shatas is one that we go to for logical investments, logical development steps. Shatas is one that just has that knack of understanding, you know, the entrepreneur, you know, step that you need to take. So we go to him regularly for that.


Unidentified Man: And we try to access him, you know, once a month, at least touch base with him.

HATTIE: So what do you think he's doing or how has he infected other people with his enthusiasm?

JOANNE: Oh, yes. Sometimes it takes that first check, and then other people are, you know, right behind him. And he's hit some pretty successful investments here, so now a lot of people are starting to pay attention to what he invests in. And if all the other successful entrepreneurs in Huntsville would do a tenth of what he does, this would be an amazing world.

HATTIE: What's driving you now?

SHATAS: What's driving me is the prospect of giving back. What we all can do is give so much back to the community and help new enterprises start faster and blossom quicker. Huntsville is a fantastic place to build a technology company. First of all, we've got one of the highest concentrations of engineers and scientists of any place in the country. We've got a great standard of living, we've got a low cost of living, we've got excellent schools.

My goal is for Huntsville to be the most generous city in America.

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