After leaving her job as a chartered accountant to have children, Cyd Smith was tempted back into part-time employment by a former client. When that position came to an end Cyd was encouraged to start up her own business by a colleague, and she soon expanded her business CS Accounting through word of mouth. Twenty years later and still going strong, Cyd’s decision to go self-employed certainly seem to have been vindicated.Cyd has never been mentored herself but she believes that it can be a valuable asset for a new start-up. In her opinion the Get Mentoring scheme is an excellent way of helping business owners to see their company from a different perspective. She says, “As a business owner you can get very wrapped up in the day-to-day running and lose the bigger picture or feel unsure of how to proceed with something. Hopefully a mentor would encourage you to take a step back from everything.” In her own experience of working with SME’s this is something she has tried to offer in her support, and it’s something she’d like to do more of through Get Mentoring: “I like to try and help them come to the conclusions of their own accord. A lot of the time the support revolves around financials but I thought it would be good to apply it to all aspects of business.” Attending the Introduction to Enterprise Mentoring course held at Newcastle University Business School helped Cyd to focus on the key aspects of mentoring and the tools she could use to encourage mentees to assess situations for themselves. Now she can’t wait to get started with her first mentee. Cyd says,“I don’t really have a preference. In my day job we are promoting help for small businesses and start-ups at the moment so that would be a good place to start, but I love a challenge so businesses that are struggling in some way would be good too.” Asked whether she thinks women could benefit in particular from mentoring and whether women mentors were important to the Get Mentoring scheme, Cyd replies, “I’m not sure that mentoring can benefit women business owners in particular. I can understand that in certain cases women may feel under more pressure when starting up or running their business and a female mentor may be advantageous in that situation. “I do think that women in business in general are under-rated and there are still stereotypical attitudes about their ability to run a business or hold ‘important’ positions even though there are plenty of examples of successful businesswomen. In that respect a female mentor would be able to show that it should not be an obstacle to a successful business, you may just need to work a little harder to prove yourself. I think if you are looking at the work/life balance of the mentee then ‘woman-to-woman’ may well help with concerns about some of the day-to-day practicalities which may arise such as childcare etc – how can I run my business if my child is ill / what if the washing machine needs fixing?. “From a strictly business and professional perspective the help any business owner, male or female, receives from mentoring should not vary if you have a male or female mentor. But I do think that female mentors may bring a little more practicality and compassion to the table and female business owners may be able to relate to a female mentor more easily.