Research shows small businesses with mentors are more likely to increase longevity, experience business growth and gain fresh insights into their chosen industry. Sage Business Expert Jenny Garrett, and her mentee Ruby Mae Moore, of Amor Magazine, share their insights about what they’ve gained from it.
What motivated you to become a mentor?
I am a trained coach and have been running my business since 2006, and so it felt like a natural extension to combine my coaching skills with my business knowledge to support other business owners. I also began to have requests from business owners I met to mentor them.
Why do you think mentoring is important?
Mentoring is critical for business owners. It provides another perspective, someone who has walked in your shoes and can give you the benefit of their experience, and someone to hold you to account. The idea is that it can help you avoid common pitfalls other businesses may fall into, achieve success much quicker and grow your business in a smarter way.
What do you think is the most important quality for a mentor to have?
You need to have a good relationship with your mentor so that you can trust them. They also need to see the gaps in your business, for example: you may be visionary, but not good at executing your plan, or you may have so many ideas that you get overwhelmed, or your business may just need a small tweak to the way its working to make a significant difference to its success. The mentor needs to help you see your strengths and help you plug the gaps. Lastly the mentor needs to remember that it’s your business and help you execute your vision.
What advice could you give to a small business owner who’s looking for a mentor but not sure where to look or, similarly, someone who feels that they have useful experience and advice to pass on to others?
I would recommend networking as a great way to find a mentor, it’s all about the relationship and you can usually tell quite swiftly if the person is right for you when you talk to them. Alternatively there are organisations, such as IOEE, CEWE, Growth Accelerator and Rockstar, that all provide mentors. If you think you could mentor someone, there are lots of organisations seeking mentors now. Get in touch and ask their requirements, you may need to attend a short course, but definitely go for it: everyone has some valuable knowledge to share.
Ruby Mae Moore
Could you tell us about your business, Amor?
Amor was founded 3 and a half years ago, with the intention of producing a platform for young creatives to break into the media industry. Amor aims to promote race equality amongst young women by appealing to all races through the images we use and the content we cover. Amor Magazine is a young woman’s lifestyle publication available in both print and online, quarterly, with 10,000 hard copies. The website is currently achieving 1.5million+ visits a month and is updated daily with a minimum of 3 blogposts.
Amor is distributed across London from selective distribution sites including Stratford Theatre Royal, Shoreditch’s Boxpark and Mama Leah’s restaurant, Old Kent Road. We also supply copies to specialist events.
We have also just started creating our own merchandise with the Amor collection of Fazetees, with 4 t-shirt designs displaying funny faces and slogans.
Amor has just been approved by the exam body AQA and can now, officially offer courses to young people giving them an opportunity to gain a level 3 in publishing with the Amor Magazine. These courses are run regularly through government-funded organisations as well as privately funded.
Currently, we are looking for a financial injection to invest in taking Amor to the next level, by funding a dedicated sales team.
How did you first meet Jenny?
I met Jenny at an event that we were both speaking at called ‘Making It Big in Business’.
What are your responsibilities as someone being mentored, and what can you expect of your mentor?
As someone being mentored I think your responsibilities lie in being open to telling someone how you feel and what situations you are going through, without holding back. You have to be inviting of someone else’s opinions and/suggestions too. What you should be able to expect from a mentor is honesty and trustworthiness. You expect what you share with your mentor to remain between you and them. As a mentee you expect to hear helpful suggestions that the mentor honestly and genuinely believes is the best advice to their knowledge, at that time.
How has Jenny’s mentoring helped you so far?
Jenny has given me advice and suggestions that have been considerably helpful. It is beneficial to get the opinion of someone outside of your immediate circle. When I was researching other ways to generate money from the magazine, Jenny suggested I look into creating revenue from teaching young people about the magazine industry. Off the back of that conversation, Amor is now registered with AQA and so we can offer our young people a qualification. We can take that to government-funded bodies and tap into their money for training their young people. Without that conversation with Jenny, I probably still wouldn’t have come up with that idea and Amor would still be without that particular revenue stream.
What advice would you give to other small business owners who think that a mentor might help them on their path?
I think mentors are great, but this is a two way process. If you are not willing to be honest and open up 100%, your mentor will find it extremely difficult to steer you in the right direction.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned from Jenny?
The most valuable thing I have learned from being mentored, is the importance of opening up to someone. Sometimes we are so fixated on a goal that we forget/lose how we plan to get there. Frequently, it simply takes someone to point out what you forgot or didn’t think of – that is what a mentor has taught me.