For this article, we checked in with Carl Beardon, a mentor who works for Barclays Bank, and Natasha Crompton, a small business owner and mentee, who set up IntrinsicTherapies. Carl and Natasha were paired up by Paul Harper, IOEE’s mentoring matchmaker, before lockdown and the pair have had meetings ever since. It is brilliant to hear how well the mentoring scheme has worked for the pair.
Prior to lockdown, Natasha and Carl had their first call to set up the foundations of the relationship. A few months later, the lockdown came into effect. Luckily, Carl and Natasha had frequent contact and were regularly interacting with other businesses, retailers and even some of Natasha’s friends and family members, both before and during the lockdown. Carl said that when the two had their first set of meetings, the relationship worked well. One of the first obstacles Carl and Natasha had to face were the external voices that were trying to get involved with the business. Whilst Natasha and Carl were exploring the markets and looking at competitors and potential venues etc, they were battling with opinions and people who wanted to change the business idea.
External voices are something that come up often when we talk with start up business owners. With family, friends, colleagues, investors, neighbours etc all wanting to share their opinion about your business idea, sometimes your idea can be lost or altered.
Carl set Natasha some exercises and reflective tasks to make sure Natasha knew where Natasha wanted to be, what Natasha wanted the business to look like and how Natasha would get there. Reminding her that it is her business and ultimately she needed to make the decisions. When the pair rejoined after lockdown, the plan of action seemed much more focused and they hit the ground running.
When they had their first interaction after their lockdown break, the ideas were more focused, realistic and they both seemed refreshed and more determined to get the next idea off the ground. Since then Natasha has opened her own retreat, developed a focused idea on what she is selling and supplying, and has been supported through the process, by Carl.
When I asked Carl whether there was a ‘best time’ to get a mentor, he said that during the lifespan of a business, you will have many opportunities to get a mentor. These usually align with those large decisions or pivotal points. Whether you are starting a new business, taking on a team of staff, looking at new social media strategies, opening an office or you decide to launch a new product, there isn’t one moment where you need a mentor. Your business will face several moments where a mentor can come in handy. Understanding your business and knowing when you need support is crucial when it comes to benefiting your business. “So in short, no there isn’t really a best time to get a mentor” it really depends on when you feel like you need that sounding board to bounce ideas off.
Natasha, who runs IntrinsicTherapies a holistic health and well-being business, is very passionate about her business. Not only in terms of wanting the business to succeed, but also in the Ethos, the message and the aims behind the business. This isn’t just a money making scheme for Natasha, it is something she believes in and wants to educate others on.
Natasha’s business was born from the gift of vision, healing and a knowledge-based in holistic living. Natasha knew what she wanted to sell and provide; the problem was deciding when to sell products and services and how she would sell them. She had a few meetings with her Mentor, Carl, about what her business would look like. Would it be a shop? Would she run the business from home? How would Natasha’s customers find out about Intrinsic Therapies? Both Carl and Natasha said the relationship was about asking these sorts of questions, the ones that may appear obvious but are really important to consider. They both also agreed that a mentor is a really important sounding board to bounce your ideas off, face no judgement, get useful feedback and be accountable.
After a few meetings, Natasha decided that she would set up the business at home, where she would provide holistic services and experiences for adults and children.
It is great to hear that the mentoring programme is working so well for both Carl and Natasha. Not only has it been beneficial for Natasha to receive support and feedback, but Carl has also found the process rewarding and beneficial from a personal point of view. We wish them both the best of luck with their futures. We look forward to keeping in touch and finding out about where IntrinsicTherapies goes next.