You can never be the finished article

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My journey as a mentor on this year’s Crucible Project at De Montfort University is sadly coming to an end with my last mentor session taking place today.

From a personal point of view, the last six months as a mentor has been an unexpected journey of self-discovery and self-fulfilment, a journey that I completely underestimated the power of.

When I was first presented with the opportunity to become a mentor to the young entrepreneurs participating in DMU’s accelerator programme, I had only recently taken the decision to go freelance.  For me, it was a time of mixed emotions that fluctuated from empowerment and immense drive to succeed, to the fear of the unknown and self-doubt. My first thought was, am I experienced and knowledgeable enough in marketing to be able to guide and advise these talented individuals on their journey to building a successful business?

I quickly had to diminish these self-limiting thoughts as I had made an executive decision that since I had already taken the brave step to go freelance, I would continue to live life on the edge, push my boundaries and go beyond my comfort zone at every given opportunity – so I of course said “yes!”

From the first 1-2-1 session, I quickly realised that mentoring is not about placing yourself on the other side of the table to the mentee and positioning yourself as the authority figure, instead I learnt that I have a lot in common with the mentees, we are all start-ups and we are all embarking on the same journey to success. The only difference is that we all have a chosen specialty and experience in a particular field, and in turn possess skills that can help and enhance each other.

Mentoring to me has been about building trust and rapport, breaking down barriers by sharing relatable anecdotes of my experiences in running a business (both good and bad) , sharing practical marketing tips and revising strategies that I have been involved in over the years when working as a marketer in a variety of companies.

Through mentoring, I have learnt some very important things about myself, including things I already knew but needed reinforcing and reminding of.

-       I have a natural passion for people and learning about their story. This is an important element of every business and its brand, as behind it all is an individual who comes with their own story that in turn brings the business and brand alive.

-       Marketing and helping small businesses really is my passion!

-       My confidence has grown immensely in the first six months of freelancing as I am continually challenged with new and exciting opportunities, some which including public speaking have been downright scary but I have had to embrace thanks to the stubborn and entrepreneurial streak inside me!

-       The most important thing that I have learnt is not to underestimate your knowledge. There is no need to wait until you are the finished article as there is no such thing as the finished article. This is especially true in digital marketing with the fast paced changes in trends and developments. There is always room for self-development and refreshing and enhancing your knowledge to keep ahead of the game.

If you get the opportunity to be a mentor then grab it as it will do more for you then you realise! Or get a mentor for yourself as no matter what stage of the career you are at, we all need that support and sounding board to make us stay focused and on track to success.