Carole Watson from South Norwood owns and runs Squire and Watson , a company marketing used office equipment online. She trained as a volunteer enterprise mentor in London so that she could help others by offering business owners a “different perspective”. Carole’s experience has taught her that many companies are hindered by “road blocks” as she calls them – issues that can be handled relatively easily once the entrepreneur is encouraged to think differently.
Carole’s first taste of mentoring came through an unlikely source: when her local tennis club was faced with bankruptcy. As an unofficial mentor on the board of the club, Carole was able to play a part in the raising of finance to refurbish the establishment and implement a new coach and bar manager to make the club successful once more. She found that her experience across industries such as education, music, building and construction formed the basis of this mentoring role:
“I’ve had to develop negotiation, selling, marketing and networking skills over the years so I know how important they can be. But not everyone applies these skills in day-to-day business in the way that they should. The key to all of these disciplines is communication – and that’s something that I think is crucial to a mentoring relationship too.”
Carole also knows what it feels like to be in the shoes of a start-up enterprise owner, having set up her own business in order to challenge herself and enjoy the benefits of being her own boss. Carole believes in keeping a cool head and utilising an objective viewpoint to achieve success. She explains that she can’t wait to get started with her first mentee and is hoping to find the right connection with a business owner:
“Mentoring is a two-way process where people learn from each other. It helps to articulate your own objectives as well as those of the mentee. I expect to get a sense of satisfaction from helping people develop and achieve their goals because at heart I am a teacher and I like to see people moving forward in whatever it is they are doing.
“I am also very solution orientated and I know the challenges of setting up and developing a business. Many people who start their own businesses have no training or support and I think mentoring is a great way of encouraging people to see the bigger picture and not get hung up on problems that might actually be relatively minor.”
Carole goes on to say,
“I believe passionately that those with the requisite skills need to help create much-needed jobs in these times of austerity and that the proliferation of small businesses is the way forward. To do that, people need guidance, a sounding board, someone to share ideas with. I hope my presence accelerates the progress of my mentee towards their goals.”
Asked what type of business she would like to become involved with, Carole says that she is open to all business categories. But she feels she has most to offer enterprises that are struggling – or where the business owner is struggling to step away from the day-to-day running and delegate. Her next step is to attend the Meet a Mentor event in London where she hopes to find an enterprising business owner who can benefit from her knowledge.