HouseSitMatch owner, Lamia Walker and her mentor, Kash Bhagwat-Brown explain how the FSE Mentoring Programme has benefitted them both.
Three years ago I was a senior executive at a publishing company, travelling the world with a fascinating job. Then, when in discussion with a friend about her experience housesitting for one year and saving telephone numbers in rent, a seed was sown; before long I found myself wanting to start a website that enabled others to find housesitting solutions for when they travelled, or to help them travel affordably by housesitting for others. It became an obsession.
HOW WE BEGAN
I started the web business knowing I had a great idea and believing I had the right skill-set to bring it to the online world. I had been a marketing director for national and international companies in different sectors and I had served on a board of directors. A start-up would be fun, it was nothing I couldn’t handle. Or so I thought…
Two years later I hit a classic start-up challenge. Without a technical partner the website, our major vehicle to market was a ‘problem child’ needing a great deal of time and investment. Our direction was being altered by the constant technical challenges of an evolving online environment.
Today, I am supported by a great technical team, proposed by my FSE mentor, who has proved something of an inspiration. The business is now growing steadily with a sound technical foundation. With a great team supporting the site we are off and running with more time to spend on growth and customer service, defining selling propositions in our field.
WHY MENTORING WORKS FOR US
Finding the right mentor is fundamental. How you feel on your initial introduction can render the coffee at your first meeting either unpalatable or absolutely stimulating. The chemistry must be right. Our FSE Mentor, despite not originally being our first preference, is definitely the right choice for us.
Our monthly discussions are driven generally by an update on recent events for the business. Our debates and the ideas pooled are generated from entirely different professional career paths. We have little in common in terms of sector experience and the skill-sets on which we built our respective careers. However, I hold huge value in our discussions and debates. Our different perspectives and diverse experiences create a confluence of appropriate ideas addressing the issue in hand from different angles – each of which we then consider to stress test feasibility.
As a single head of a web start-up, one of the biggest challenges is the inherent limitation of only one mind wrestling strategy and operations. This is where a good mentor match can super charge your ideas, or help you save resources by challenging a train of thought that may ultimately lead you down the wrong path.
Our mentor has absolutely saved us time and money. Moreover, our regular discussions have given me confidence to drive the business to achieve set goals. And, more importantly, he has stimulated the search for bigger fish to fry based on our model. Our mentor helps our business stay focused.
- Since starting to work with our FSE Mentor we have increased monthly revenues by 20% (tempered for seasonal uplift)
- In January 2016 HouseSitMatch was awarded the Guardian Small Business Award
HouseSitMatch offers a quality of service that sets it apart from the competition. Seeing the belief in Lamia and other mentees growing at each meeting and seeing their successes building self-confidence is a very satisfying feeling.
To read more about Kash’s experience as a mentor, click here
The FSE Group runs a completely free Mentoring programme for SMEs that are looking to grow. Further details are available on our website http://www.thefsegroup.com/mentoring/