In this article we speak to Cheryl-Lya Broadfoot, one of our current mentees on the programme. Cheryl-Lya runs a coaching, planning and consultancy business called Souls Compass. We spoke to Cheryl-Lya about the impact a mentor has and the visible effects a mentor can bring to your business. Cheryl-Lya was paired with Meha Shukla, a Lloyds Banking group mentor, by Paul Harper. Paul matches mentors and mentees in a way that has proven to be successful. The mentoring scheme is in collaboration with UKFinance and has been running for many years, with some amazing results. Paul really does a great job at initiating mentoring relationships that are effective and last.
We wanted to know more about the experience from a mentees point of view and understand how the programme really works out for them. Straight out of the gate, Cheryl-Lya said that the mentor programme has been a real benefit to her and her business. She had mentioned that you can’t really split yourself from your business. “You are your business” and having a mentor lets you share some of the stress and pressures that comes with running a business. When you are so involved in the day to day running of your business, I can imagine that things get a little hectic. Finding ways to disconnect from the stress may sometimes be difficult, so having that mentor there may be one way to offload your stresses, even if it is just saying them outloud. She said that sometimes running a business can get a little bit lonely. You’re sailing the ship on your own and you end up having to do many things all at once. Sometimes you can overlook small details, or perhaps “you become so busy working on delivering your services that you don’t have time to look at how your business is running”.
The mentor programme steps in here. The mentor gives the mentee a sounding board to bounce ideas off. Cheryl-Lya said the mentoring relationship is a no judgement zone and she felt comfortable throwing ideas around and asking questions. It could be a long call, it could be a quick email, but communicating with your mentor is something you will find yourself doing naturally over time. It may stop being appointments and it may become little questions here and there or just quick calls. We asked Cheryl-Lya for some details on the importance of a mentor and she said “it’s all about that other perspective”. Being able to ask for a fresh pair of eyes on a new idea, plan or strategy is really important in the start up and maintenance of a business. That additional support and other perspective is what the mentoring programme is all about. Meha, Cheryl-Lya’s mentor, said that the conversations created the solutions, and communication was key.
When I asked Cheryl-Lya about her experience, in terms of workload and how the mentor programme fit into her schedule, Cheryl-Lya said that having a mentor such as Meha, takes the overwhelm away. You have more time to focus on other areas of your business and you don’t feel like you are on the journey alone. You have someone to talk to, to ask questions and to give feedback. It was very important, too, that the relationship be conversation based. The interaction needs to be two-sided, meaning, both parties talking and not a one sided arrangement. Cheryl-Lya and Meha have been communicating about new ideas, structures and internal business arrangements in a way that suits them both.
The relationship between our mentors and mentees is a natural one. Where both parties are doing their best to get the most out of the experience. The relationship develops naturally and gives the mentee access to industry knowledge or support for around a year. Though, naturally, the relationship may last longer or shorter than this, the mentor programme is really there for people to build that support network and develop their list of useful contacts. Cheryl-Lya now has access to Meha’s expertise, and is able to ask questions or talk through ideas.
I wanted to know more about the timeline of a mentee.
When should someone get a mentor?
Cheryl-Lya answered, anyone should get a mentor. Whether you’re at the start of your business or you’re developing an existing business, a mentor is beneficial.
Is there a point in your business’s life that a mentor will be most effective?
Finding a mentor at peak times in your business’ life may not be effective. “Having that ongoing support is more consistent but also more effective.”
How important is a mentor?
“Having a mentor is hugely important.”
Is a mentor something you would recommend?
“I would say as soon as you can, get a mentor”. Cheryl-Lya went on to say even if you’re looking for ways to improve your softer skills, share business ideas, get feedback or share some of that overwhelm you may be feeling, a mentor is a useful tool.
It was great to hear from Cheryl-Lya and to hear about how the mentor programme works for our mentees. If you are a small business and would like to learn more about finding a mentor head to https://ioee.uk/free-mentor-support/. We look forward to hearing from you soon.