A Phenomenological Exploration of the Mentoring Experiences of Women Business Owners in Central Florida

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Patricia Bishop
Chris Deason


Women have been starting businesses at twice the rate of men in the United States, yet women-owned businesses have had lower sales, profits, and survival rates. Although entrepreneurship centers and other institutions have developed training and developmental programs to support nascent entrepreneurs, there is a need for more resources to help established businesses survive and grow, especially women-owned businesses. Therefore, a qualitative phenomenological study was conducted using a purposive sample of 10 women business owners in Central Florida who were protégés in an entrepreneurial mentoring program. The purpose was to understand the aspects of mentoring that were perceived to foster successful business and personal experiences and outcomes. The study used Moustakas’ phenomenological approach that included in-depth, open-ended interviews. According to study participants, the aspects of mentoring that were perceived to foster successful business and personal experiences and outcomes were: (a) access to an ad hoc mentoring team of subject matter experts, (b) opportunities to learn essential business skills, (c) psychosocial support from mentors, and (d) networking and relationship-building opportunities. The study contributes to the developmental networks knowledge base by describing how group mentoring provides career and psychosocial support to established women business owners. Future research should explore the mentoring experiences of early-stage women entrepreneurs, investigate gender differences within the entrepreneurial mentoring context, and examine how the developmental networks of women business owners grow and change over time.

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