Divian Mistry already had a well established business when he found out about the opportunity to source a mentor from the banking sector. Divian started investing in property a few years ago after leaving University. He’s now developed a wealth of expertise in the sector, and also runs a business to help people who are considering investing in property themselves, he says: “One service of the business is about helping people learn more about buying property for investment and how to finance it, but now I also have a coaching side of the business where I help people to move forward with their goals. Often there’s something stopping people progressing their business because of the way they feel about something, I help them figure out what’s stopping them”.
Divian found out about the mentoring support available to him through one of the interactive events held jointly with LBG, the BBA and Enterprise Diversity Alliance (EDA).
EDA is a unique collaboration to pioneer new ways of promoting development and growth of diverse SMEs through imaginative and productive relationships with large firms and private and public business service and finance providers. Led by Professor Monder Ram Head Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME) and Professor Kiran Trehan of the University of Birmingham, its aim is to ‘make diversity and enterprise everyone’s business’. LBG is a founder member of EDA and our joint events enable and encourage growing enterprises to gain insight and guidance from our enterprise mentors.
As Divian has so much experience in his own business and now in coaching and mentoring, we asked what made him attend the event and seek a mentor himself, he says: “As someone that coaches and mentors myself in the course of my work, I’m a strong believer that it can really help you progress your business. I was interested in the idea of sourcing a mentor from the banking sector as I felt there was potentially a great deal I could learn from someone with a banking and corporate background”.
Divian was first introduced to Andy Judd Credit Analyst at the Birmingham Mid Markets Credit Management Centre, Lloyds Banking Group in February this year and since then they have got together once a month, he says, “When I met Andy the business was already going really well, but it was useful to talk through a couple of areas that weren’t working as well for me. It helped me realise that I shouldn’t be spending time on them and instead should be focusing my time on those areas that are making money.”
As Andy works in the banking sector rather than as a business owner, we asked what expertise Divian feels he brings to the relationship and whether this can be truly useful to a business owner like himself, he says, “Andy works with big businesses, many of which turnover between £25m and £750m a year, so he has a lot of experience in using time effectively and prioritising activities, and while my business is smaller than those he is used to working with, there are still lots of practical tips and ideas that I can implement. Also, as I started the business straight from University and therefore have very little work experience outside business owners, it’s really interesting to learn from his experience.”
He goes on to say: “Some people set up a business after learning everything in a job and then replicating it in their own business. I don’t have that background so I do feel like it can take longer to be successful. There’s loads he knows about the mechanics of larger businesses which are completely new to me.”
Andy has also enjoyed the experience and felt that he’s gained personally from volunteering some of his time to the mentoring role, he says, “It’s been very rewarding to apply my experience of many years in a banking environment to mentoring Divian. He’s got tons of energy and commitment, and I like to think I’ve helped him apply some of my operational knowledge from the corporate sector to his ambitions for his business.”
Therefore although there are differences in background there still seems to be a great deal that a business owner can gain from this kind of mentoring relationship.
We asked Divian whether he would recommend sourcing a mentor to other small businesses, he says, “I’d always advocate finding a mentor or coach for anybody that’s running a business. It’s just all about having some support there. Early on in my property business, a mentor taught me so much I didn’t know. I still made mistakes, but it gave me the confidence to know that that was OK and the courage to keep going. I knew it would be hard work, but I didn’t realise how much hard work. I’d just come out of University and working for yourself is so different as you have to create your own schedule. I could very easily have got distracted. A mentor really helps you evaluate what you’re doing and check that the way you’re spending their days is going to make you money.”