About Avril

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Mentoring Project - Helping 6 women transform their business ideas into reality!

The mentoring journey has officially begun at www.businessofbrave.com   

I have never done this type of thing before so it’s a bit of a social experiment to see if we can share a simple mentoring programme to encourage more people to do it because mentors are so helpful and (I believe) critical when you are bravely trying to start your own business. 

I was a little nervous before the first meeting because it’s all new to me too but I was excited about being a part of 6 women’s journeys.  I might not have all of the answers for them, but I certainly know how to help them identify what they need to ‘go find out’ and to help them structure a sales and marketing plan and/or create an online business.

The Format:
  • We have invited 6 women who want to transform their business idea into a reality to join us for 6 sessions.
  • Each session is an hour and a half in duration and deals with a specific relevant ‘theme’.
  • Each session has a mentee chosen in advance to be the focus during the session.
  • We spend the first 30 mins going around each person with an update on what they have achieved since last time against their objectives and/or any challenges/progress.
  • We then have an open 1-2-1 session between of the mentees and myself for 30 mins which focuses on their specific journey and highlights the sessions ‘theme’.The idea is that through the 1-2-1 session, the others draw parallels with their own journey and get value out of it.
  • The floor is then opened up for the other 5 women to question, suggest or challenge the chosen mentee (15 mins).This gives each mentee the chance for the whole group to drill into their business and help them by questioning and challenging or sharing valuable input and ideas.
  • We close the session off with another round of what each person got out of the session and clarify their objectives for the next meeting (15 mins).
  • The 6 sessions are designed to be an ‘injection’ to get the mentees on their way.Then we will set up a longer term solution to keep them motivated, on track and supported on their journeys.
I didn’t know if this format would work but after the first session, feedback proved that it did and as a mentor, I thought it was effective. You can find and download all of the planning documents that I used to set up the session here
The first session is difficult to fully prepare for as a mentor because you don’t have a deep understanding of the business each mentee is trying to set up and/or their current challenges and situations.  I did ask for their progress trackers (download here) in advance to see what their short and long term goals were, but I needed to hear their stories to fully understand and connect with them.  
For the first session’s open 1-2-1, I chose a mentee who had a really clear idea for her business and seemed to need to launch straight into the structure of building her high level business plan and offering. 
Session 1:  Why?

You can watch the video summary (below) and/or read the article and get the relevant links:

The theme that I chose for the first session was  ‘Why?’  Understanding ‘why’ you are wanting to set up your own business helps to  ensure that it is authentic to your true self and helps you carve out the emotional ‘story’ behind it.   It is also important to ensure that what you want to do is aligned with your core values because if you are not living your values through your work, you will feel compromised and you’ll be missing out on deep connectivity and purpose with what you are spending your time on (which I believe is key to success).    
I wanted to use the ‘why’ theme to also try and get the mentees to get clear on whether they have actually made the decision to go ahead with this business idea right now.  It’s one thing to want to start your own business, but like everything you want to change or make happen in your life, you need to actually ‘decide’ because it’s only then that you will commit to taking the right action to get the results.
I thought that it would be a good idea to get the mentees to work out what their core values are before we met for the first time.  I used a process from a book by one of my favourite business Authors (and really helpful and open guy) ‘Stan Slap’   The book is called ‘Bury my heart at conference room B’  (The unbeatable impact of truly committed managers)   You can use Stan Slaps process to work out your own values here and I highly recommend his books!
Going through this process seemed to highlight how much some mentees were unable to live their values at their current workplace which has been a major drive for them to want to set up their own business.   With some mentees it even highlighted to them how some of their current work environments don’t even live their own Corporate Values.  Another great reason to look at Stan Slaps books (if you are in that current environment and want to change it) including his latest book just out now  ‘Under the hood’ (Fire up and fine tune your corporate culture). 
After going through everyone’s values, the business they want to set up and ‘why’ they are wanting to do what they are doing, we started the open 1-2-1 session.  The chosen mentee wants to start her own consulting company which deals with not only the business side of her industry but also the holistic health within her industry which is so current right now with what seems to be an exciting ‘global wellness movement’ taking place all around us.   
We identified that she was at the point of needing to really get clear on what her offer or ‘business proposal’ is.  We set the objective for her to make a draft business proposal by the next session and try to articulate her offering.  This 1-2-1  naturally led us into the importance of articulating what our business would ‘offer’ and I invited all mentees to make a start on creating or carving out their own ‘offering’ which in turn will help them make a start on their high level business plans and identify next actions. 
Starting with ‘What is my offering’ here are some questions to help crystalize it and to identify what you need to ‘go find out’:
  • What will my business offer? (Products, services, content, information, coaching…)
  • What are my current competitors doing and what will I do differently or better than them?
  • Where will the revenue come from?What are current pricings in the market and how can I value my products/services against these?
  • Will I need to have a stepped approach to what I offer?How would that look?
  • What will I need to have in place or ‘get to’ to give up my day job and work solely on my business?
  • Who can I start identifying as a person or company that might give me some advice or mentoring (finding other mentors and networks/organisations or channels to help steer you)
Some other things to start thinking about and capturing
  • What will my website look like and what do I want it to do? Start looking at sites you like and sites like www.wix.com to have a play around with making your own website (which is pretty simple and intuitive - you can even set up an ecommerce shop!)
  • Create some vision boards or ppt’s or files that capture designs you like that give you inspiration for the look and feel of your brand.You don’t have to spend lots of money on designers, you can crowd source designers on great sites like www.peopleperhour.com or www.elance.com
  • In fact – you can pretty much crowd source a whole TEAM to help you do whatever you want to through sites like www.elance.com
  • Vision boards are great also for keeping a view of the ‘bigger picture’.Don’t be afraid to think big and dream up a huge vision for your business.
  • Who is my ideal ‘customer’What does he/she look like, where does he/she go or do e.t.c.If you can start to get really clear on your ‘customer’, you can start to capture ideas about where you can market yourself and get the right traffic to to your offering.
Next session we agreed that in our initial ‘go around’, I will ask each person to reflect on the questions above (in relation to their business idea) and to share how far they have progressed and/or any challlenges they have encountered. 

You can find all videos, articles and documents at www.businessofbrave.com
See you next session!

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