AT THE recent Made entrepreneur festival in Sheffield, business and enterprise minister Michael Fallon announced that the Mentorsme online portal – which connects mentors and mentees – has over 22,000 accessible mentors. That’s an awful lot of knowledge on tap.
Setting up a business involves serious trials and tribulations. So speaking with someone who has come out the other side can make all the difference.
Caroline Stanbury, founder of luxury website Gift Library, says “my mentor’s advice and guidance was invaluable. I had strong experience in the luxury sector but had never set up my own company.” Stanbury says one of the most helpful people for her was Brent Hoberman‚ co-founder of LastMinute.com. Five years on she still speaks to Hoberman, and his advice is always valuable: “Every entrepreneur needs a mentor,” she says.
Charlotte Knight, founder of G’NOSH, thinks every entrepreneur should have a mentor. She has worked with Robert Leechman, former global chief customer and commercial officer for Coca-Cola. “He has brilliant business contacts and over 30 years’ industry experience” says Knight, which she believes will help develop the company’s brand.
Zoe Jackson, founder of Living The Dream, thinks that “as an entrepreneur you can get too partial to the business you’re starting.” She says that having a mentor helped her to objectively identify strengths and weaknesses. Priya Lakhani, founder of Masala Masala, “guided me in re-evaluating my long term strategy, looking at it with a different perspective to make it the best it could possibly be,” she says.
As Eze Vidra, head of Google’s Campus, explains: “Mentorship is invaluable to successful entrepreneurs. Often, the difference between success and failure is taking the priceless guidance of someone further down the track than you.”