This year I completed the Help to Grow programme at Kingston University thanks to hearing about it at a Kingston Chamber of Commerce Networking Breakfast meeting in January 2023, where Bahare Afrahi from the programme was telling everyone about this opportunity to join the next cohort.
I started the course in February 2023, and it was an amazing experience from start to finish with excellent lecturers, workshops, in person sessions, coaching and mentoring., not to mention the networking and friendships made during and after the course at alumni events.
The mentoring sessions that I had were so impactful that I wanted to share more about this with you.
I was lucky enough to be matched with an amazing mentor that I clicked with and who was so supportive and gave me so much inspiration in so many ways.
- My mentor had so many years of diverse experience and was able to share insights with me from so many angles that made me think and review what I was doing, become more confident, believe in my journey, and make more informed decisions.
We explored so many areas of my business covering.
- Seeing me as my greatest asset in terms of creating leads whether in person or online. Making sure I conserve my energy and focus on this is essential for me to always be systematically lead-generating at the capacity that suits the way I work.
- Taking more advantage of being the lifelong learner that I am and soaking up information from books, workshops, webinars, and conferences so always be ahead of the game.
- Feedback is so important when offering a new service or one that clients are not aware of at first. Building on this feedback and tweaking services is a great opportunity to refine what you sell early in the process.
- Less is more – does every activity you do add the value we assume it does? Do what you do best and outsource the rest, as I often tell others so need to heed this as well.
- Overdelivering and being underpaid and hence looking at add-ons and upselling.
- Telling the story of my business journey more and why sustainability is my passion and at the core of my business and should be for everyone else, including my accreditation process.
- Making time to reflect and not getting stuck in “action” mode is so easy for small business owners and especially if you work on your own and at home.
- Structure the day (which I do) and have clear intentions, boundaries, and start and end of day routines.
During the sessions with my mentor, I went on a sales retreat and came back with lots of ideas that my mentor helped me formulate into valued services at the right price levels. This included skill swaps, collaborations, and upping my game in exposing what I do to the right people with confidence.
Those of you reading this who know me will perhaps think that I have been doing much of this already and I have, but it is always a good idea (as I tell all my clients) to stand back and review what you are doing and to have an outsider perspective to challenge and confirm thoughts and ideas so that you are not at an x road but on a trajectory with focus and on the right path.
What I have gained from my mentoring experience is
- Being open as you never know what connecting with someone can do for you personally, your outlook, and your business.
- Knowing that experience and knowledge sharing are 2 ways and mentors and mentees can provide each other with “aha” moments.
- That you can develop skills when working together and guidance received on leadership, communication, problem-solving, and decision-making are just some of the areas that helped me.
- Running a business can be daunting at any stage and having someone who believes in your vision, boosts your confidence, propels you on, helps build your resilience, and helps you face challenges, is a welcome change with positivity.
- Having regular check-ins and quality discussions has kept me focused and on track.
- The outside perspective and experience and knowledge that a mentor provides if you are open to receiving it, is constructive, supportive, strategic, fun, and inspiring.
- All feedback is good feedback and seeing any pitfalls and risks is a good thing, ‘forewarned is forearmed’ as they say. Learning from someone else’s errors and experience is invaluable and can help you avoid costly mistakes at a critical moment.
- Mentoring not only looks at the business but you as a person and how you can be inspired to take a new path, become a better leader and champion in your world.
- Mentor/Mentee relationships can develop into long-lasting relationships where guidance and support can be offered even after the official mentorship ends.
If mentoring is ever an opportunity that is offered to you, take it with both hands and explore every opportunity that arises, as you never know what ‘gems’ you will find.
Mentors often provide valuable guidance, support, and resources gained from their professional experience which will help you grow as a person and as a business owner.
Lastly, enjoy the experience, I had a lot of fun and laughter which always lifted my spirits no matter what situation I was dealing with.