Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Fairy Godmothers and Helping Hands

While studying at the London School for Social Entrepreneurs I've been given a mentor to help me grow Positiveworld Studios. My mentor is lovely. She is a fan of contemporary art, a whizz at tax, and organisational change. She's humorous. Nice. Just talking things through with her has helped enormously. She's helping me on the structural side of things, and the slightly more business-focused side of the studios through simply talking with me once or twice a month on the issues my project is facing.

Then I have another mentor, coaching me on leadership - an uncle, who (lucky for me) works as a coach and trainer with clients such as Google, and used to be a Chief Exec at Ghetty Images. Apart from being my uncle, he's warm-hearted, insightful and empathetic. And really supportive.

I am looking for more - to help with the different areas of the project. I know from my own experiences coaching people what spending just a few hours a month can do for people. Having a mentor can shine a light on tricky situations, provide business acumen, technical expertise and knowledge that would otherwise cost thousands.

I'll never forget the mentoring I received from Lynne Franks' SEED network - the first ever female entrepreneur to give me one to one support for my work. Or the award winning entrepreneur from the Princes Trust, who told me (aged 25, living on a boat with erratic running water, no fridge and a dribbling shower) that my business plan was the best he had ever seen.

Not all mentors have to be illustrious celebrity-types - when choosing a mentor think about the people in your community you already know, who could help you. These are often the people who could know your project best, by already working with the people you want to reach out to, or help.

Fairy godmothering is always magical. As good as it is to receive help, it's also good to help in return. How can you support those in your community? Are their people you know you could help? Are you an expert in something that you could share?

Check http://www.inc.com/guides/growth/24509.html for more resources on mentoring.

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