Why Mentoring Matters
The British Library in London might seem an unusual place to look for a mentor but you would be surprised. Originally part of The British Museum it became a separate entity in 1973. The current building, found on the Euston Road, was designed by Sir Colin St. John Wilson and opened in June 1998. It is one of the two largest libraries in the world, the other being The Library of Congress in The United States.
In May 2005 The British Library received a £1m grant from the London Development Agency to turn two of its reader rooms into the now famous Business and Intellectual Property Centre or as it is better known The BIPC. The centre opened officially in March 2006 and holds what is arguably the most comprehensive collection of business and intellectual property material in the United Kingdom and is the official library of the UK Intellectual Property Office.
Huge Business Archive
Among the huge number of books, sound recordings, magazines and newspapers held by the British Library generally people visiting the Business and IP Centre will find there is something else which may surprise them and that is the extensive range of mentoring and other business support services provided by the dedicated team that work there.
Seminars on accounting, marketing, registering patents and creating business plans are all available together with the much acclaimed Innovation for Growth Programme where applicants can apply for extensive and ongoing mentoring.
The beauty of the Business and IP Centre is that it is housed in such superb surroundings. Besides being able to access information by reading books that are available in its reading room there is also access to the very knowledgeable staff who will help and direct you in your research. There are also cafés, restaurants and wifi internet available on application.
To find all of this located in one place in North London is very special and not to be overlooked lightly by those serious about starting or growing a business. Much of the advice is free which adds to the unique offer made by one of Britain’s truly great institutions.
Although my own time is limited due to extensive business interests and travel commitments I always look forward to my visit to The British Library as its official Entrepreneur in Residence and never fail to enjoy hosting working lunches for people on the Innovation for Growth Programme.
Business Book Reviews
I also present an online bi-monthly book review series from The Business and IP Centre. In this series I review four books which I have read within areas as varied as international trade, marketing a small business, advertising etc all with the sole aim of assisting business growth.
There are of course many other mentoring schemes for business both here in the UK, Canada and the USA, all of which will have their individual merits. My advice as always is to check out the credentials of those offering advice, not because they are charlatans, because most are genuine people who want to help growing businesses prosper, but some I have come across have never actually ran a business themselves so may not be the best people to take advice from.
Make sure that the person you are asking advice from is qualified to give it. If its accounting advice you’re after don’t be afraid to ask what qualifications or track record your would-be advisor has. Is he or she an accountant? Were they a bank manager or someone with extensive knowledge of the way the money system works? If it’s marketing advice you want ask whether the person putting themselves up as a mentor has detailed knowledge of that subject and don’t be afraid to ask for references, especially if they are charging you for advice.
Mentors are very useful for fledgling businesses but the wrong advice can set a business back rather than taking it forward so make sure you heed the tips above before and not after you have taken any advice given.
With so many ex serviceman and women leaving our armed forces it is essential that they receive the right advice before attempting to start a business. People who have served to keep us all safe deserve all the help and assistance they can get when adjusting to life in civvy street. With jobs few and far between many will want to start their own businesses, and organisations like Heropreneurs offer mentoring and other assistance to get them started.
There is a lot of free advice out there and plenty of paid for advice, both have their merits but be selective and think it through after you have received it before implementing it in your daily business.