A year in mentoring: Peter Mountford's review of 2015

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Peter Mountford took control of the Heropreneurs Mentoring Programme at the beginning of 2015 and it has been a jam-packed year so far. "I hadn’t been a mentor before, but felt that I was well qualified having been involved with Heropreneurs as a board member and investor in many early stage businesses," Peter explains.

"Luckily, a number of the investments have been very successful over the last 25 years," he adds.

Heropreneurs has helped about 25 new businesses this year. " Some of them are doing really well and nothing has gone bust. That’s a relief!" explains Peter.

"I suspect that a small number will give up trying because its one of the most difficult things to create a successful new business from scratch – but that shouldn’t put anyone off from trying!" he adds.

Peter explains that he was keen to take over the Mentoring Programme because he wanted to understand more about what the process involved and how it could be improved.

He noticed that most new businesses that approach Heropreneurs don’t need industry specialists, because they tend to know a great deal about the industry that they operate in. But they do need plenty of support in other key areas.

Peter outlines these areas below:

  • New businesses usually need a sanity check.  Are they about to start a new business that is sensible, or is it a pipedream?  If it’s sensible, what are going to be the biggest hurdles to overcome at the start?
  • Being an entrepreneur is a lonely game.  Having someone with a lot of business experience to talk to on a confidential basis is invaluable.  So if nothing else, I can be a sympathetic listener. I’ve spent a lot of my business life being a good listener and it’s a special skill.  I’m still working on it.  There are far too many people out there that just like the sound of their own voices, and it’s a real problem for them but funnily enough, they have no idea of the extent of the problem.
  • “I’ve got no commercial expertise”. That's the phrase most often said to me.  Well, when you start your own business you will develop it pretty rapidly or drown in the process.  I can provide an experienced view on a commercial problem, but at the end of the day, the founder of a business must sort it out for himself or herself, so I try to ask the right questions to enable them to make the right decision.
  • A real test is making sure that I challenge the business model sufficiently well enough without putting off the entrepreneur from getting started.  This can be quite tricky.  I want to give people the confidence to have a go, even if they will be real challenges along the way.  The real test will be in the ability of the new business founder to meet the challenges and the way in which they are dealt with.
  • Assessing the character of the business founder is a real challenge for me.  I don’t believe the nonsense that entrepreneurs are born and not made – I’m certain that just about anyone can be an entrepreneur if they have a real desire to do it.

This year has been busy for Heroprenuers but everyone at the team is truly excited to see what 2016 ushers in. If you'd like to get in touch, please email team@heropreneurs.co.uk

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