SETsquared Bristol is proud to partner with Mogul Magazine, Bristol’s first Black led digital magazine. Members of our team share monthly business advice and digital business surgeries for Mogul’s readers in each publication. Submit your business question to firstname.lastname@example.org, where it could be published and answered by one of our business experts. Together we’ll ensure that business advice, information and opportunities reach entrepreneurs from diverse background across the region.
In May’s issue Paul Forster, Community Manager at SETsquared Bristol, answers this month’s reader question.
I’m a local fashion designer and have been making clothes for a while now. I am thinking of reaching out to a mentor. Do you have any advice on the best way to do this? – S.Campbell
A mentor/mentee relationship is a great way to help solve challenges and introduce fresh perspectives to your business. Before you start looking for a mentor, you need to define your reasons for needing one, so you both have a clear understanding of what is expected.
Determine what specific skillsets and experience you are looking for, and what you want to get out of the relationship, e.g. market segmentation, opening doors for new commercial opportunities, or help with your business plan. Your goals need to be well defined in order to find the right person and fit for your company, to gain value from the process. Make sure you have a good understanding of what your business is, and a clear and concise pitch, ready to reach out to potential mentors.
You also need to know and understand what kind of relationship you want with your mentor. Are you looking for a once a month chat or a more involved arrangement? At SETsquared Bristol, we believe that mentoring should be a reciprocal relationship, and something you shouldn’t need to pay for. Although here’s the caveat – are you looking for a mentor or a business coach? It’s important to understand the difference between the two. A coach is someone that you can pay for, to help with personal and business growth.
So now that you’re ready, how do you go about finding your mentor? Start with some research into who and what organisations can help in your area. Attend some local networking events and meet-ups that are specific to your industry, Eventbrite and Meetup.com are good resources.
Look into business support organisations and incubators that may be able to help you find a mentor, for example, Natwest Accelerator, Business West, or Brave. At SETsquared Bristol, we have a fantastic pool of skilled and experienced mentors that offer their time for free to SETsquared members. Depending on your age, there are accessible youth entrepreneur organisations, such as The Princes Trust. Are you part of any community or educational institutions that might have access to mentoring programmes?
You can also contact organisations that offer business support for creatives. The Crafts Council run business development programmes and events. Locally, Bristol Creatives have a helpful list of business support resources.
Look into some local independent fashion designers, and approach their founders to see if they are willing to support you as a mentor, or introduce you to someone that can. Best of luck.