Mentoring – Good or Bad?

Mentoring – is it a good thing or not?  I came across this article by James Caan and thought it was worth sharing.  Please let me know your views.  

Find a mentor who can give your business a helping hand

How important is it to have a mentor? Columnist James Caan explains what a mentor could do for your business.

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James Caan: My father was my mentor – without him, I’m not sure I’d have made it. Photograph: Alamy

Is it essential to have a mentor? If so, how can I find one and what help should I expect?

The practical advice and guidance a mentor can offer is priceless. Not only can they help you avoid business hiccups, they can share words of wisdom that are invaluable, be your stirrup during struggles and share your happiness and excitement during good times. They’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt and have a wealth of knowledge for you to tap into. All in all, a mentor could be your saviour.

Mentorship is becoming more and more accessible and recognised within entrepreneurial circles these days. This is because we finally understand the importance and impact a mentor can have on aspiring business owners.

Starting up is a long process, full of highs and lows. I’ve failed many times in business – and each failure taught me a valuable lesson and enabled me to hone my knowledge and learn from my mistakes. This set me on the right path and gave me the grounding I needed to succeed. Collectively it is important to share these lessons of failure to try and steer entrepreneurs and small business owners away from the same pitfalls. This is exactly what a mentor can offer.

If you’re looking for a mentor, try to find somebody who can really understand what you’re going through. There’s no point starting off by speaking to someone twice your age with 20 years of corporate experience, because they won’t be able to immediately recognise your struggles.

Instead, look for someone of a similar age who has taken a similar path and can help you avoid the mistakes they made. Remember, finding someone you actually relate to and who shares your passions is essential – without these similarities you’re just wasting each other’s time.

Secondly, look for someone who knows your sector inside out. You want to get as much as you can out of your mentor and the best way to do this is by ensuring they have the right knowledge and can point you in the right direction.

Find somebody who can potentially open some doors for you, somebody with contacts that could help you progress – take advantage of everything your mentor has to offer. Take a good look around you – your mentor could be a parent, cousin, uncle, brother, friend, colleague, competitor – the list goes on. Don’t underestimate your options.

It is important to remember that a mentor won’t necessarily remove all the obstacles your business faces, but they can certainly show you a better route to get to where you need to go.

Typically, entrepreneurs are hesitant to ask for help because they feel like they want to do everything themselves but remember that everyone needs a helping hand, no matter who they are.

My father was my mentor. He helped sculpt my future success and, without him, I’m not sure I’d have made it.

If you find a good one, a mentor can help guide and nurture you, sharing wisdom you’ll never forget. For me, this was my father’s one-liner: “Observe the masses and do the opposite” – advice which still resonates with me today.

 

 

Think Positive

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Hi

I came across a book that belonged to my dad yesterday.  I was really supprised that he owned it as he was always so positive and encouraging in whatever myself or siblings did, and then with his grandchildren.  So finding that he read a book called ‘The Language of Positive Thinking’ gave me a new insight into my dad (who I thought I knew really well).  This book has been read many times and having read through a lot of the quotes, I can understand why my dad read the book so often.

With the non-stop rush through life, we tend to just ‘get on with it’ but do not take the time to reflect on what we are doing and where we are going.  Part of this reflection should include re-setting our mind so we have a positive attitude – lets face it if we don’t have a positive outlook, those around us aren’t going to be persuaded by us, lead by us or help us achieve out goals.

Here are a couple of the quotes from the book:-

‘A man should never be ashamed to say he has been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday’ Alexander Pope

‘We learn wisdon from failure much more than from success.’  Samuel Smiles

If you are a Manager, Entrepenuer or thinking of starting up your own business keep in mind these quotes and take a positive from every situation, good or bad.  It is often how you deal with a problem that matters rather than the event it’s self.

I was tutoring a Sage Course and everything was going well and to schedule.  Half way through a class the IT equipment went off.  Not great when I am teaching Computerised Accounts!  It was the week before their exam and my learners we getting really stressed.  Rather than panic or just sit there waiting for the IT chap to sort out the problem, I gathered everyone into a circle and asked each person in turn a question about the sage system, how to enter information and what phrases meant (you get the idea).  Some struggled to bring to mind the process but with a little encouragement each learner got more confident and we talked through areas that came up where knowledge was limited.  The following week, with all the IT equipment up and running, my learners completed their exam and all passed with flying colours.  After the exam finished we had 10 minutes catch up and I asked how they found it.  A common theme was that the Q&A session from the week before had helped embed the knowledge and made it easier to recall during the exam.

So from what could have been a wasted lesson, a simple change gave a positive outcome.  From this I changed my last lesson for this course to include the Q&A and had my lessons benchmarked for the whole provision.

On a bigger scale, Virgin Airlines had a problem with one of their flights.  The delays were excessive, customers were left in the airport for hours.  The passengers were very unhappy with the service they received which would have an impact on their business.  Richard Branson personally rang every passenger on that flight and apologies for the delays.  Instead of passengers complaining about the terrible experience they were telling everyone they had actually spoken to ‘the’ Richard Branson.  It is amazing how the small thing make such a huge difference to a person and in turn have a positive outcome for a business.

To sum up, positive thinking goes a long way in positive outcomes. Do not let other tell you that you can’t do something (unless it is illegal!) if Henry Ford had listened to his customers, he would have invented a faster horse instead of a car!

Till next time.

Top 5 Digital Marketing Tools

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Hi

When starting Inspire Consultant,  I had to look at lots of different tools that would help me promote the business and keep costs to a minimum.

I read SOOO many articles on the internet, specialist in marketing giving their advise but I found that a lot of these specialists rely too much on the Google Adword campaigns to promote business.  Google Adwords has it’s place and if you have the funding for it, great.  From personal experience this can be (and proved to be) really costly and you have little control on who is clicking on your link – you are still charged even if they don’t want what you have.   I am very much a penny in the pocket kind of girl, as are my colleagues, and I felt their was more cost effective ways of spending my advertising budget with a more controlled outcome.

So I have put together a list and a little bit about each suggestion, that I have found to be FREE and easy to use, even for a novice.  The more you use the platforms/tools the better you become but even the basics are better than most others offer.

If you would like this FREE information sheet, please send me an email and I will send it by return.  There is no catch, I just wanted to give back some of the information I have found to save you the hours upon hours of research I have been through!

Judi

 

We have Officially Launched Inspire Consultant

WE HAVE OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED

new logo

We are really excited because Inspire Consultant (Dukinfield) has officially launched.  We are working to create interesting and informative blog posts to help new Start-ups and Small Businesses to move forward in their goals.

We have a free local (Tameside) training course that will be starting soon to help New Start-ups with the basics.  So if you have an idea for a new company and don’t know how to get started, this course will help.  Also if you have a hobby that you would like to convert into a business we can help with the too.  AND IT’S TOTALLY FREE.

If you are interested in this short course please let us know and we will give you more details.  You have nothing to lose but a lot to gain and with the government offering additional support to new companies, it is a great time to get started.

We will be posting a page on our website just for this training so keep watching.

We would love to send you our free articles on a wide range of business topics, from our take on marketing platforms to policy writing.  We will also notify you of new blogs going up, where we aim to keep you up to date on our free offers and services, along with what we have been getting up to.   So please sign up to our mailing list and you can look forward to receiving good quality information that actually helps.

If you would like a free consultation, where we can help with a specific area or just a general ‘health check’ of your systems, please give us a call or email and we will arrange a free visit with NO obligation.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Free Training for Enterprise

Hi Everyone

I am starting a free short course for people who are just starting out in their business and those who want to start a business.

The class will be 2 hours per week, one evening in Ashtn-U-Lyne.

If you would like to attend or know know someone who might be interested, please either call me or email me (details on my website).

This is totally free and the final session will be a question and answer format so people attending will have the opportunity to ask questions about their particular venture and get support.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Judi

Team Building

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I was asked to look at possible team building activities and locations for a client who was looking to do some thing that all his staff could be involved in.  Sounds easy right – wrong!

He has a 15 staff that have an age range of 20 to 58 years old and different backgrounds. Oh and a limited budget of course.

I spent some time talking to his staff, finding out what they liked to do and making suggestions to possible places and gauging their reactions.  This proved informative but the staff had such different ideas it was going to be hard finding something for everyone.  Added to this, my client was making it a compulsory event, always a hard sell with some staff.  There are so many beautiful places in the UK the choices are endless.  My recent visit to Betsy Coed is just one perfect example.

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Sports activities were out, travelling any distance was not received well

Sports activities were out (go carting, paintballing, white water rafting, rock climbing), not many were keen on traveling, others didn’t like the idea of being with other groups.  The negative list just went on and on.  Not a lot of positive responses were coming forward.

I then went back to my client and asked ‘What exactly do you want to achieve from this event?’  It is easy to get carried away with these team building events and not achieve what your client wanted.

My client explained that the moral within the company had been low, partly due to a down turn in business and partly due to him being stressed, leading to being less cheerful with his staff.  Basically it was something to cheer his staff up, remind them that they were a team and that they are very much valued.  I felt given the downturn in business meant that throwing a lot of money at an event would be inappropriate and give the wrong message to staff.  So I asked if my client would consider a structured event outdoors, followed by a simple finger buffet at a local pub.  This meant keeping costs to a minimum, local so hardly any travel involved and a simple buffet that I could put together myself (experience from Managing the Broadoak Hotel!).  My client really liked the idea and was happy for me to put together a proposal.

A lot of research later, I had an event planned, costed – just needed approval from my client. I put my proposal together and dropped it off for him to look through and get back to me with any changes.  I was really surprised to get a call later the same day from my client giving me the go ahead.   I had a further meeting with my client to finalise the date, time, exact number of people etc and he was happy to leave me to get on with planning the event. I only had 3 weeks to get everything in place and ready – no time to waste.

I planned several games (a couple as back-ups), booked a free function room where I could provide my own food, went shopping for catering/buffet and one event ready to go.

The day was a great success.  Staff were a little apprehensive to start with, which I expected but with some light persuasion and a lot of laughing at each other, everyone joined in the games.  Back at the function room, the staff were ready to eat and carried on laughing and joking with each other about the games and how badly their boss had done (not sure if he lost on purpose!).  It was very rewarding seeing a company come together during hard times and to remember that they are valued and worth the constant stress for the owner.

I checked back with my client a month later and he said everyone had really enjoyed the day and were asking to maybe do another similar event in the future.  He put the photos up on the notice board as a reminder and staff had been more understanding of his position, being more supportive in general.  He asked if I would be prepared to hold some innovation meetings with staff to get them more involved in the company, I was happy to help and see this small company grow a little at a time, but certainly more positively.

There are so many ways to bring staff together and it does not have to cost a fortune to get the results needed.  I believe that it is not how much you spend on these events but the quality of the event that matters.

If you feel I could help you or your company arrange an event, please let me know and I will be happy to talk through some ideas.  07478 946454 or email.

 

Working on my Website

Blog – 25th April 2015  

I am trying to decide the best way to organize my website.  I thought this would be easy but it’s not…

I want to offer my visitors some interesting information in a hope that they will then look through my website and the services I offer – and contact me to arrange a meeting.   But finding the right balance is the hardest part (in my opinion).  I have read loads of marketing information over the years, and more recently, looking at trends, what people like to see, what gets their interest.  Depending on who your target audience is, the marketing can be changed to meet their interests, if you are appealing to a broader spectrum of people this can be more challenging. 

I have found that people like to get something in return for visiting your website.  This can be entering into a prize draw, signing up for a newsletter or just some interesting information that is relevant to their search criteria.  

I have decided on articles that are relevant to businesses and new start-ups.  I will be putting headlines with short descriptions on my ‘News Page’ and then linking them to hidden pages within my website.  This will keep my site clear of clutter but provide a lot of information for those who want it.  

I am making my ‘New Page’ my target page.  This is the page people visiting my site will see first.  Once they see the interesting information I have on there they will then look through my site and get in touch.  

So better get on with putting my articles together and finishing my webpages.  Takes a while to get them right but better that than having something on my site that is not reflective of who I am or what I want to achieve.  Taking that extra time now will make all the difference down line. 

If there is any topic you would like to know more about, please let me know and I will try to get an article up there for you. 

Take care  

Judi 

New day, new challenge

I am working on a number of new articles to help individuals and small businesses with some of the problems they experience during everyday working life.  I will post them on my ‘News Page’ and within this blog format.  If you have any suggestions or comments I would love to hear from you.  My articles are from my experience and if you know a more effective way of doing things or could offer some insight to others, please write on the comments part of my blog and I will include them in my articles, where possible.

Thanks for being part of helping others achieve their goals.

Judi