We’ve had quite a mentoring themed week here at TiM. On Tuesday Angela was interviewed about being a mentor at Entrepreneurial Spark and yesterday Angela and I met up with CarolAnne Morris to arrange a business mentor through the Scottish Chambers and Scottish Enterprise Business Mentoring Service. We’ll hopefully be matched with suitable business mentor from the thousand strong database in the next week or so!
Our experiences with mentoring
Angela has been involved with the mentoring process for some years now and is a big advocate of the benefits, whereas I, in all honesty, haven’t really given it a proper go. I had one or two mentors in past roles but I can see now that I didn’t take full advantage of the learning opportunity I had, often cancelling meetings in favour of doing my day job or attending unprepared and trying to think up issues to discuss on the spot….which wasn’t helpful in the slightest to me or my mentor. The upside is that I can see the error in my ways now and as well as getting a business mentor I’ll be looking into becoming a mentor too. And giving it the time and effort it deserves!
So I’ll focus on Angela’s experiences and hopefully we can encourage you to get involved with mentoring too! As I mentioned, Angela is a Mentor at eSpark but she also has two mentors of her own! Here’s what she had to say:
Who are your mentors and how did you find them?
The first is Leah Hutcheon, Founder of Appointedd. I contacted Women’s Enterprise Scotland about sourcing a mentor. I was looking for someone who had launched their own start up in Scotland, and gotten through the early days, ideally with a B2B company. So they paired me up with Leah which was perfect!
The second is Alina Martin, I contacted her independently as I knew her personally from when I lived in Canada. I had seen her grow a business and champion female entrepreneurship, so I thought there would be a natural fit.
The third will be the business mentor that you and I are looking for from the Business Mentoring Service. We’ve asked them to look for someone who has the commercial skills that we haven’t necessarily got so far to help us grow the business, I’m really looking forward to getting the shortlist next week!
What do you get from your mentors?
With my current mentor relationships, it’s support. Being a business owner can be quite a lonely place and if you’re working for a big business you’ve got lots of other people with different skills to lean on. As an entrepreneur you’re trying to do it all yourself and it’s good to get access to different viewpoints and skills.
They’re a great sounding board and a fresh perspective. They give me encouragement, advice and reassurance. Just hearing that they’ve been through everything I’m experiencing as a new business owner is helpful!
Why did you become a mentor?
It’s exposed me to a variety of businesses I wouldn’t have had contact with before and I’m learning how to apply my skills to different businesses. Being a mentor isn’t altruistic, there’s tangible benefits on both sides of the fence, if you have a successful pairing you might develop a longstanding relationship that extends far beyond mentor/mentee and provides further value to the growth of your business and career.
Sometimes I get bought wine! :) I’ve met some really great, interesting people who are constantly teaching me new things, and I can build a great rapport with them. Mentoring is just like advanced networking really, but it gives you more opportunity to create quality connections as opposed to fleeting ones.
Interested in finding or becoming a mentor?
Scotland houses loads of schemes and organisations that support people looking to get involved in mentoring. A quick Google will bring them up, and here’s a few that we know about:
Or, as Angela did with Women’s Enterprise Scotland, you can try approaching some of the Scottish business support organisations to see if they’ll facilitate sourcing a mentor for you – even if they don’t advertise it as a service.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a mentor and have a specific person in mind already, why not approach them directly? And remember it’s not just you that will benefit, they will too so don’t feel nervous asking, they can take as much from the relationship as you will!
Check out the National Mentoring Day site for lots more information on mentoring and get involved!