Mentorship for business growth: businesslife

Story by Jessica Williamson

Fall 2022

Did you know that a mentor is one of the greatest secret weapons an entrepreneur can have today?

According to an analysis conducted by Endeavor, a non-profit organization that supports high-impact entrepreneurs across the world, companies whose founders have been mentored by a top-performing entrepreneur are three times more likely to go on to become top performers themselves.

Our city is equipped with a small but mighty group of mentors accessible through the SMARTstart and AdvanceSMART programs.


Why: Mentors have the tools

Mentors are selected for their experience in launching or scaling their own businesses, as C-suite executives or functional experts. They are empathetic, great listeners, assertive and motivated to help.

Through a day-long training program, mentors are equipped with three tools for providing guidance: instructing, advising and coaching. Effective mentors can use all three of these tools and shift between them when appropriate.

Our programs place more emphasis on coaching, which focuses on asking the right questions to challenge and inspire an entrepreneur.


It’s true, a mentor can help you grow

A seasoned mentor can help an entrepreneur stay afloat longer, both personally and professionally, and navigate a path to achieve their growth goals  through both foresight for the challenges ahead and the hindsight they have from their own experience in business.

Patricia Duggan participated in Airdrie’s SMARTstart program in 2020 as she undertook a career change from 30-year-accountant with a daily commute to Calgary to local floral shop and commercial property owner.

“SMARTstart really helped with meeting people in the business community,” says Duggan, whose one-on-one mentor provided as part of the program was Dr. Heather Cowie, owner of Airdrie Family Eye Doctors. “Our first year was better than I projected.”

Duggan is the proud owner of Funky Petals Flower Shop and was the recipient of the Airdrie Business Awards – Emerging Airdrie Business Category in 2021.


Mentors are motivated to give back

A mentor’s value stems from the fact that they’ve “been there and done that,” giving mentees the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and experiences.

Whether you shape Airdrie’s next business success story or help them become a better leader, you’ll make a difference. Airdrie offers a variety of mentorship pathways: one-to-one mentoring to help new entrepreneurs launch businesses, team mentoring to assist with growth strategies, or mentor specialists who apply their specialized skillset to unique challenges.

Airdrie mentor Dr. Cowie loves being involved and giving back some of the mentorship she’s received in her career.

“The most rewarding [part] by far is just watching her blossom,” says Dr. Cowie. “It’s just incredible to watch.”  Dr. Cowie was the recipient of the 2021 Airdrie Business Awards Greatest Impact Award.


Be the business mentor you needed

Are you an accomplished entrepreneur, C-suite executive or functional expert looking to build your own leadership skills and give back to the community? Join our mentorship team! Apply online at


You want to grow your business; we’ll help you get there

Airdrie’s SMARTstart and AdvanceSMART programs will soon be accepting entrepreneur applications for 2023 start dates. Be in the know by visiting and adding your name and email address to our mailing list.

Through the support of mentors, the community and the entrepreneurial support ecosystem, Airdrie entrepreneurs are well equipped to build great businesses and become better business leaders.


Jessica Williamson is an economic development officer with the City of Airdrie