Having run my own food and drink centric brand design company for over 20 years, during which time I launched over 200 successful new brands for my clients, my skills and expertise span every step from concept to on shelf.
By providing a 360° overview of the business concept and identifying key areas where help and support are required, I provide
cost-effective advice and introductions to appropriate partners to provide specialist input as and when required.
And over the course of my career, I’ve learnt that being a food mentor comes with a huge amount of responsibility as I recognise that to my mentee, my advice is hugely important and may change their business lives forever, so I treat it as such.
I also know that a good mentor has to provide more than just guidance and answers during career transitions or whilst trying to solve a particular problem, they also need to provide motivation inspiration and support to help their mentee get to the next level and fulfil their potential.
So for me, there are five key aspects to my role.
I’m a good listener, I love being with people and helping them solve their problems.
I help to remove roadblocks and build bridges by sharing my experiences, both good and bad. And some of my learnings over my 42 year career can help my mentees avoid some of the mistakes that I made.
I have an ability to visualise a problem and to identify the options to solve it and whilst I may put forward suggestions, my role is to present options, not to make decisions for my mentee.
- Deliver honest feedback
Whilst I know it’s wonderful to get positive support and be cheered on, it’s also important to be honest and to help identify potential problems. Running a business isn’t straight forward and things don’t always go to plan so it’s important to consider your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as you develop your plans and respond proactively to unexpected problems as they arise.
- Motivate and inspire
The key for me personally is to influence and inspire the next generation of foodpreneurs to become strong, motivated, confident, and thoughtful leaders. If I’m able to accomplish that, I consider my mentorship a success.
My empathy enables me to ‘tune in’ to each of my clients as an individual and I work hard to convey my concerns in a constructive way that plays to their strengths.
And the most important part of my role is to inspire my mentee to reach their fullest potential, to challenge their comfort zone and give them the confidence to drive their business forward.
- Establish mutual respect
The relationship between the food mentor and mentee must be based on mutual respect, trust and support. I see it as a partnership which fosters acceptance and confidence in which both parties feel they are able to communicate openly and present their thoughts.
Often, my mentee’s are sole trader businesses and they have no-one else to turn to for advise and support, so I focus on nurturing trusted relationships which make my mentee’s feel at ease during our sessions.
- Be open
I believe it’s important to be open and honest with my mentees. I always offer what I believe is best advice so I won’t pull any punches or avoid presenting negative feedback.
I also recognise that no two businesses are the same and ultimately, choices and decisions need to be made by the mentee but I’ll always offer my thoughts and advice in relation to this.