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Posted on by natalieparker

Social Media Manager and Trainer, Rebekah Harriman knows how hard it is to start a new enterprise. She worked a full-time job during the day and developed Rebekah Harriman Creative and Authentic Social Media, in the evenings for much of 2009 – something that wasn’t easy with two children to care for. Now four years down the line with a successful business going well, she is glad she made the move, which allowed her to pursue a more fulfilling job. But while Rebekah appreciates the flexibility and satisfaction she gets from being her own boss, she is keen to point out that achieving success isn’t easy. She says,

“To be honest, it quickly becomes apparent that the concept of establishing a work–life balance is a myth. In my experience running a business that’s able to cover the mortgage takes up more hours than being in employment. But working through the evenings and weekends is just something that has to be done to achieve success – even if those working hours have to fit around parents’ evenings, school plays and all of those other commitments when necessary.”

Rebekah received mentoring herself both as an employee and during those first tricky months of becoming her own boss, something she says helped her along the way when things got tough:

“When I started the company it was part-time in the evenings, but once I took the plunge into doing it full-time I used to meet up with an old boss who had also set up her own consultancy. Meeting for a coffee every 6 weeks or so to share my fears was very cathartic. I always came away feeling motivated and invigorated. I think that’s one of the most important aspects of mentoring, helping the mentee to avoid the slumps that can easily happen when you go it alone.”

Over time, as she found her own business growing and developing, Rebekah was approached by other entrepreneurs who wanted the benefit of her experience. And it was this informal mentoring that led her to enrolling on the Introduction to Enterprise Mentoring workshop in Birmingham. She says that the time felt right to give something back in a more structured fashion:

“I wanted to be part of something that demanded a more regular commitment to mentoring. And in many ways I was interested to see if I’d been giving the right kind of support. Attending the workshop was great because it confirmed what I thought mentoring should be – and it also encouraged me to bring other skills to the fore that perhaps I hadn’t explored already. It also put the right framework in place and set the boundaries for mentoring. It’s good to know what the difference is between mentoring, coaching, consulting, etc.”

As a natural communicator, Rebekah is now looking forward to sharing experiences and listening to the challenges entrepreneurs face as they try to establish and grow their enterprises. She’s particularly keen to work with creative individuals who are looking to explore different opportunities and establish businesses that require both mentor and mentee to think outside the box.

Rebekah feels more established business owners should turn their hands to mentoring, and she’s convinced there are many people out there who would want to partake in the scheme:

“People can’t be as philanthropic with their cash at the moment, but given the option to be philanthropic with their time I think a lot of business owners out there would be willing to throw themselves into a mentoring role and watch a start-up blossom. Running a business doesn’t offer an easy way out. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. But once an entrepreneur has been given that shot of reality and realises that he or she isn’t the only one working at midnight, it’s actually a bit of a comfort.”

And being a parent of two children she believes that this moral support and empathy of a mentor is particularly important to those entrepreneurs who have other commitments away from the office. She says,

“It’s very easy to feel a sense of guilt. When you aren’t working it’s easy to feel guilty that you aren’t ticking off all the things on the to-do list; then when you are at your desk you feel a sense of guilt that you aren’t with the kids or your partner. Sometimes you need that external perspective – somebody detached from the business to give you a pat on the back and let you know that you’re doing all you can. I think whatever your personal situation, male or female, there’s always some dilemma of this kind.”

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