Get Mentoring

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Chris Kenna completed the online training for the Introduction to Enterprise Mentoring course because he wanted to help new businesses avoid the headaches he encountered starting up SDMC Productions in 2010. A driven and ambitious businessman, Chris made the unusual transition from soldier to actor/model to managing director in the space of just a few short years. On his own experience of running a company, Chris says,

“It was hard. In the Army I’d been used to having my wages paid, a roof over my head, meals taken care of and all those other things that suddenly you can’t take for granted when you become self-employed. When I set up SDMC Productions in Manchester I quickly had to learn about finances, tax and how to run an enterprise from day-to-day – not something that’s easy when you’re also trying to drum up business, get in good staff and make high-quality programmes on a shoestring. To be honest it was a horrendous learning curve and I just wasn’t fully prepared for what I had to face.”

Now in his third year in business, Chris employs 47 members of staff and makes entertainment, drama, documentaries and feature films for both UK and international broadcasters. But he admits that there were times when he thought thinks might go disastrously wrong. He says that the help of an enterprise mentor to share ideas with and get a nudge in the right direction would have been invaluable:

“When I came across the Get Mentoring scheme I thought it was a brilliant idea, and something I could really have done with to save me a year of sleepless nights. I always felt that I knew where I wanted to end up, but a mentor would have made it so much easier to get there. If I can work with new start-ups and help them make it through that torrid first 12 months then it will be worth it.”

Chris’s commitment to nurturing new talent doesn’t just end there, either. As an ambassador for JobCentre Plus, he travels all over the country talking to people with an interest in setting up their own business to inspire and encourage them. And at SDMC Productions he offers regular work experience opportunities and apprenticeships to encourage the next generation of media entrepreneurs. With the knowledge he has gained over the course of his career, Chris hopes that he could mentor business owners from almost any industry:

“I don’t really have a preference for the type of company I work with, and I don’t think it should actually be the mentor choosing the business. I see myself offering my support and skills where they are wanted, and it’s for each business owner to decide what it is they want out of the relationship. The skills I have and the online training I’ve done should equip me to help pretty much anybody.”

And he goes on to say,

“In some ways it is better for enterprises to be mentored by entrepreneurs with different backgrounds. A lot of industries, my own included, have dos and don’ts, glass ceilings and common practices that it’s easy to get bogged down in. For new businesses, especially ones that are trying to innovate, it’s good to get that lateral thinking that comes with an outside perspective. I think that mentors are there to get entrepreneurs the best results, rather than just copying what is the done thing. And if that means breaking away from the norm then so be it.”

The best thing about the Get Mentoring initiative according to Chris is the way it can utilise established business owners’ in-depth knowledge and experience – something that he still finds himself doing even now. Chris says,

“I attend a lot of networking events and I’m always overwhelmed by what I can learn in half an hour of talking to someone who knows their trade. I’d encourage any entrepreneur to take part in Get Mentoring because they are such a valuable resource to the next generation coming through. What mentee wouldn’t want to have that kind of expertise waiting to help at the other end of the phone?”.

Posted on by getadmin | Posted in Case Studies, Get Mentoring Monthly