Last year I attended a couple of free workshops at my Local Council’s Business Hub. They were based on giving you a better understanding on advertising, marketing and social media. They were free to attend, only a couple of hours long, really informative and they provided the stepping stone to the free mentoring, I’m going to tell you about.
Chambers of Commerce
After I attended the mini-workshops at my local Business Hub, I became aware of a couple of master classes with a Chamber of Commerce mentor. They were very basic and more geared towards people who had an idea for a business but I was relatively newly launched and went with an open mind in case I’d not done something important when setting up my business. These sessions were both informative and great support; to have a real person in front of me who had experience of setting up and running businesses was brilliant and inspiring.
From these sessions I got to learn more about the Chambers of Commerce and although I have not yet got the income available to join the Chambers I could still apply for some mentoring.
‘Let’s Do Mentoring’
My local Chamber of Commerce has a mentoring programme that offers support in terms of guidance to growing a business. The ‘Let’s do Mentoring’ scheme provides a minimum of 12 hours funded mentoring/coaching for a business and will partner up someone who has ‘been there and done that’ in a similar sector.
Applying For Mentoring
The application for mentoring was relatively easy. I fired an email off to my local Chambers of Commerce and they replied with a phone number of the Manager of the scheme. I called, and we arranged a face to face meeting.
This meeting was really useful. We chatted about where I was and where I wanted to go with the business and we discussed what areas of the business I was struggling with most.
Initially I wanted someone I could be accountable to because working from home is really lonely and doing what you should, when you should is sometimes harder than it sounds.
I also wanted someone external to look into what I was producing and how my systems were set up to see if I could streamline them, make them better or in fact change them altogether for the benefit of my business.
I was contacted a few days later by the Manager who informed me that they had allocated me a mentor who they thought would be a perfect match to start me off with.
My Mentor is called Mair Williams, she set up her company Dreamair in 1991, selling general gifts to both trade and retail, and since 1998 she has diversified to include selling hand painted glass and china mugs online.
Our First Meeting
I met with Mair last week and we went through my business with a fine tooth comb. She asked me questions like when, why and how I set the business up and what was my future plans for it.
It was a real eye-opener to have someone who is not ‘horsey’ but very business minded to look at my business inside and out and see areas I’d either not done well enough or had literally not thought about doing at all.
Making A ‘To Do’ List
My vision for The Lady Saddler has always been based on producing handmade products, using British traditional skills, and sourcing the best quality British materials available. Mair suggested getting the British flag onto my website and images of my products but I have since gone one better…
What do you think to my rehashed logo’s?
I also have a list of ‘to do’ items such as website and photo updates, setting up international postage, order new packaging, a new stamp, and a roller banner, as well as plan some advertising and email campaigns.
If you are a new business and want some assistance it’s worth contacting your Local Council and ask if they have a Business Hub/Business Support Department, or if they do not, then search for your local Chambers of Commerce and/or Growth Hub. There is no obligation to join these organisation’s but the wealth of knowledge and guidance that they can provide is often free and second to none.
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