A former citizen’s advice bureau advisor, recruitment consultant and customer service advisor, Sarah Praise from Milton Keynes is now in the process of starting up her own enterprise as a coach and mentor. In addition to the law degree and coaching qualifications she already possesses, Sarah added a Certificate in Preparing to Set up a New Business through SFEDI in 2012, making her well placed to take the leap into self-employment. But even with all these skills, Sarah knew that she would benefit from connecting with a mentor. She told Mentoring Monthly a bit more about her business and how two Get Mentoring-trained mentors have given her a new perspective on her business venture.Sarah, tell me about your business? My new business is called Clear Direction Life and Business Coaching. I will be specialising in career coaching and business mentoring for women. Why did you decide to set up the business? I think there are probably two main reasons why I set up my own business and both revolve around my daughter. Being self-employed allows me to have a greater control and flexibility over my own work–life balance, as many parents who own businesses will tell you. I’m also drawn to the idea of being successful without finding myself at the mercy of an employer. The second is that because I am a single mum and have experience of the challenges that face women trying to work and raise children, I’m inspired to work with others who find themselves in a similar situation. I know what it feels like to be isolated in this way and it is very important that people have a support network that they can share their struggles with – in both a business and personal context. Why did you decide to get the help of mentors? Starting a new business can be very daunting. Although I’m going to be mentoring for a living myself, I felt that it was just as necessary for me to get the support of someone with a different perspective as it would be for anyone else. In fact, because I understand the mentoring role, I understood the relevance of it even more than other start-up businesses might. Working with successful entrepreneurs and established business owners is fantastic because their advice and guidance can help me to reduce the chance of making mistakes that could cost time and money. My mentors have helped me to move the business forward in the way I think best, asking me why I am doing things and making sure that I have thought everything through. I’ve had the opportunity to work with two mentors since I considered starting up Clear Direction Life and Business Coaching. Being challenged by two different people has forced me to present my ideas more clearly and, knowing that they approve of what I am trying to achieve has given me great confidence. Would you recommend that other businesses seek the support of a mentor? Why? I would definitely recommend that other entrepreneurs seek the support of a mentor because what they will gain is invaluable. A mentor is a helpful tool in gaining clarity of business direction, identifying strengths and weaknesses, and developing business strategies. With one of my mentors we have devised action plans that are reviewed at the start of the next session to measure the progress I have made. This makes me more accountable for my actions and I’ve found it a great way of ensuring that I am always moving forward. How is the mentor/mentee relationship different than say, a business advisor? A business mentor in my opinion is someone who nurtures you through positive feedback and questioning. If you are not quite there with your ideas a mentor will ask what you want to achieve and make suggestions to help you take steps towards getting there yourself. Do you think having a mentor has made a difference to the success of your business? Having a mentor has been very helpful and useful to me. I’m looking forward to launching my business in May, but before I met my mentors I still didn’t know where to start – let alone have a date for when I would start trading. I’ve been inspired by the work my mentors are doing through the Get Mentoring scheme, though, so before I get my own company off the ground I’ve decided to offer my services to people in my local community for free. It will be my way of giving something back. Is there one specific thing that it's changed for you? Is there something you've done because you've had a mentor that you wouldn't have done otherwise? I have become stronger and more determined to start my business. I was a little hesitant initially but now I feel much more confident about what I am trying to achieve. What next for your business? What are you ambitions? I am passionate about helping mums – especially single mums with children. My ambition is to make my services accessible to people who might perhaps consider coaching a luxury. Thanks to my mentors I have seen that this isn’t the case and that it is an essential and necessary form of support needed across all aspects of an individual’s life.