"The best teachers are those who tell you where to look but don’t tell you what to see" – Anon


27th October is National Mentoring Day and new research carried out by Paymentsense has shown that nearly 30% of the 1,000 people surveyed, said they had benefitted from the advice and guidance of a mentor. The study also showed a gender-based ‘mentoring’ gap with 33% of men and only 28% of women saying they had a mentor now or in the past.

I suspect you will find plenty of blogs and articles explaining how a person benefits from having a mentor but I want to share my experience of being a mentor and why I would highly recommend it!

Winston Churchill is quoted to have said ‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give’. This thinking is on the same lines as a Buddhist proverb ‘If you light a lamp for someone, it will also brighten your own path’

I have been an accountant for over 20 years and in that time, I have met and worked with many start ups and small businesses in various industries. 20 years is a long time to gather knowledge and experience of what it takes to start and grow a successful enterprise and also the pitfalls to avoid!

Earlier this year, I met someone at a networking event who was asking for volunteers to become Business Advisors in the Young Enterprise Scheme. The scheme connects young people in schools with the world of work and enables them to develop the knowledge and attitudes they need to succeed. As a Business Advisor, I help my team of six, 14 and 15 year olds to develop their skills in eight key areas:

  1. Communication
  2. Confidence
  3. Financial Capability
  4. Initiative
  5. Organisation
  6. Problem-solving
  7. Team work
  8. Resilience
We meet for an hour every Monday and my role is to steer the team in running their company proactively and to achieve the goals they set for themselves. Although they are young, they take their roles very seriously and I have been impressed by their focus and desire to make a success of their business.

As the team is made up of four girls and two boys, I feel that I am helping to address the gender-based 'mentoring' gap a little too. Advising the young team also helps to reinforce my own work with start ups and small business owners, who are in a similar position. They too are new to business with lots to learn and implement and a guiding hand is always welcomed!

Being a mentor is so rewarding and I feel like I am playing my part in helping someone else see what they can achieve for themselves. As John C Crosby is quoted to say 'Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction'

Can you 'light a lamp for someone else'? You don't have to have years of experience. Just enough to be able to help. I know you won't regret it if you decide to do it!



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