By Lara Morgan
Lara is Chairman of Company Shortcuts and a member of The Supper Club
Launching a new business requires such a broad range of skills that it can be extremely daunting for a novice entrepreneur to face alone. Asking for help isn’t always the easiest thing to do in business, but could tapping into the expertise of someone who has already been there and done it be a shortcut to success?
I was fortunate to be able to call upon numerous mentors over the 17 year period that I ran my first business, and each of them offered different areas of expertise that helped me to navigate the challenges of managing a business going through fast growth.
Learning to deal with people was one of the first pieces of the management puzzle I identified, so I set about finding a mentor who was an expert in recruitment. Happily, the gentleman I found not only offered me great advice on dealing with people, but he was also a lawyer, the owner of a larger company, a major supplier of mine, and most importantly someone who I liked, respected and could trust.
I started the company aged just 23, so to be honest I knew very little about some of the more technical aspects of business. I asked my accountancy firm to mentor me through learning accounting, and I would have lunches and buy dinners for individuals that had professional expertise I could tap into, perhaps in social media, branding, digital marketing or almost any other area of business learning. The key is really not being afraid or too proud to ask other people for their help and advice – you will usually find they are flattered you have asked them.
A mentor can be an invaluable resource for you and your business, and here are the five things I believe a mentor can give you that you will struggle to get anywhere else:
1. Help identifying and understanding your own strengths and weaknesses
2. A network of contacts that would take years to build for yourself
3. An alternative perspective on problems and challenges
4. Honest, constructive criticism – it is not a mentor’s job to just agree with whatever you do
5. Coaching to help you develop the skills that you are lacking
When it comes to mentoring, I have found that my time and skills are much better suited to public speaking. This has allowed me to share enterprise stories around my successes in export, the experiences I have in both failed and successful business exit and my opinion on the other areas of company development that I have a strong passion about, with a much wider audience. In a public speech I can reach a number of people in a short period, and get an understanding of the challenges the whole audience may be facing.
With that in mind, it doesn’t mean that I am not delighted to be asked for advice by entrepreneurs. I feel humbled to think people may want my one-to-one advice, but I hope that by sharing my story and the lessons I have learned on a larger scale will help more entrepreneurs all over Britain take the right shortcuts to success.
Lara Morgan is Chairman of Company Shortcuts – a consultancy dedicated to excellence in sales and leadership. Lara combines her own fast-growth experience with a passion for unlocking the growth potential of established businesses to help organisations whose ambition has stalled.
Lara Morgan is on Twitter @IamLaraMorgan