Get Mentoring

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Jess Bailey and Sally Brown were first introduced through a contact Jess met during her mentor training, and after exchanging a few emails they decided to meet and see what working together could do for them. Find out what led them to the Get Mentoring scheme and how they see the initiative helping start-ups and growing enterprises.

Jess Bailey, 38, describes herself as a serial entrepreneur who can't help but have a few enterprises on the go. Alongside her work as a transport planning consultant she’s run businesses ranging from a picture framing company to an online cook and bake-ware shop, and more recently the creation of an enterprise hub for potential business start-ups including NEET communities.

Jess recently moved back to her home town of Kings Lynn, having lived in Scotland for a number of years, and was keen to get plugged into the business community again. She spotted the Get Mentoring training in Norfolk and decided to sign up. She says:

"I wanted to meet people, get ideas and share experiences. I've been quite enterprising in my career. I always seemed to be someone people go to for advice and to discuss their business ideas, so I thought it could be interesting to develop what seemed to come naturally a bit further."

Jess says of the course, "I came out really feeing a real vibe and energy amongst the group". Jess was soon introduced to Sally Brown through one of the people she met on the course too. Sally had just started developing her own beekeeping business and was looking for a mentor who could give her advice as she grew her business. Jess and Sally have since met up a couple of times and they both feel they're already getting a lot from the process. Jess says,

"Although I'm the mentor I really feel that I've learned so much from Sally already. One of the main ways I think I'm able to help Sally is by helping her to set realistic expectations. I've noticed that, as with many new-start businesses see wants to see the profit now, but I'm able to help her to 'keep it real' and hang in there during the early stages, without losing her positivity and energy."

Jess is looking forward to working with Sally over the coming months whilst she sets up her own new ventures in the area. Jess is working on a number of projects to support NEET communities with skills and is on the verge of launching The Jelly Club which will focus on support in this area.

As a businesswoman with a background in town planning, Jess is also passionate about the regeneration of the high street and she believes mentoring has a major part to play in this:

"In the town centre communities there is often a mixture of experienced, long standing businesses and new comers full of ideas and enthusiasm. They could learn so much from each other; an activity like peer to peer mentoring could be fantastic in that context. I'd suggest that newly-trained mentors get the word out that they a're ready to mentor while the training is still fresh in their mind, whether it’s through the organisations on Get Mentoring or their own connections. It's a great learning experience which I have already found hugely rewarding."

If you've completed the Get Mentoring training and you're keen to get going, activate your IOEE membership and contact Mentoring Organisations andNEA Providers in your area looking for mentors.

Find out more about Jess at www.jessbailey.co.uk

Sally Brown launched her business, The Happy Bee Company, in April of this year, making a range of cosmetics all produced from Sally's own bee hives.

Sally learnt to be a beekeeper whilst working in France as a NVQ teacher in travel and tourism. She says, "I wanted to learn French and realised the beekeeping classes were far cheaper than the French lessons, so thought, why not? The classes were in French which improved my language skills and I learnt to be a beekeeper too."

With jobs thin on the ground when she returned to the UK, Sally soon saw an opportunity to turn her hobby into something more:

"I had to think about what jobs I could do and what I currently had that I could turn into a business, so I looked at the hives in the garden and said 'come on girls we've got to make some money' and set about developing my business idea from there."

And the rest is history. Sally quickly realised that she had to develop products that went beyond honey in order to create a year round business, so she attended courses teaching how to make soaps and creams and began selling small quantities to outlets. Although it wasn't as straightforward as she has initially hoped. Sally points out:

"In the early days there was a lot of expense, I felt like money was just going out. Where I'd expected craft fairs to be a source of income, they were actually more of a marketing exercise than income. To sell my products I really needed to find local shops to stock them."

Sally now plans to increase production and she’s identified a gap in the market for locally delivered courses for people who would love to pursue beekeeping and make cosmetics. She’s also been asked to demonstrate old fashioned bee keeping at a local museum, which ties in with her tourism skills.

Over the next 6 months Sally wants to develop a number of retail and wholesale outlets and run events with another local business, taking their products and skills to a whole new audience. By joining forces with other local businesses with similar skills she hopes to be will be able to reach more customers and create more products.

With ambitious plans for growing The Happy Bee Company, Sally says that getting help from people with the right kind of business knowledge has been invaluable already:

"When I started doing the creams and cosmetics I knew there would be rules and regulations so I contacted a local organisation called Outset to get ideas. My contact there, Chris Leighton, was incredibly helpful with the practical things such as legislation and how to present a stand at a craft fair, I didn't have a clue about things like that. It was so practical but what a difference it made. And it was Chris who first put me in touch with Jess. She’d met her at a local event and thought she could be helpful as a mentor."

Jess and Sally have since met a few times and Sally says: "Jess has been great as a sounding board and for giving me contacts. I've always been employed before so I've been used to a regular waged income. Being self employed and not having that safety net has been quite frightening. Jess has been great at saying, 'That's OK, you'll be fine, hold your nerve, just keep going.

"I've got the ideas but I just don't know the ins and outs of running a business yet. If you've been doing it for years you just know it automatically, but for someone like me it's hard to know where to start, that's why her experience is so invaluable, she has experience of dealing with the same problems I'm facing."

Sally also believes it’s important to find a mentor that fits your business or personality: "You put your heart and soul into your business, so you need someone who can hold your hand when it gets scary, whilst giving you the confidence to keep going. With Jess, it feels like she's on my side."

Find a organisation that can connect you with a with a mentor at www.mentorsme.co.uk

Visit The Happy Bee at www.thehappybeecompany.co.uk or follow Sally on Twitter @sunshinesally

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