As the breadwinner in my family, it took me a long time to ‘come out as an entrepreneur’. Having a full-time job, I started my business Goodordering on the side and, for three years, I hustled and worked late nights and weekends to get the business to a point where I could quit my full-time job. One of the areas where lesbians are not traditionally supported is when we need to juggle many equal priorities at once. I never really realised how much I needed support until I met the team from LBWomen and was invited to take part in the WERKIN pilot program for mentoring.
When I heard about the WERKIN app mentoring pilot program, I thought it was interesting because it involved technology (which I love) but also because it involved the potential for helping me and my business which, as a sole business owner, I craved.
Having been teamed up with Emma Reynolds as my mentor, I was slightly over-excited and a bit starstruck. Obsessed with food, and a big fan of ramen and dumplings, I am a regular customer at several of her Tonkotsu restaurants. Plus, not only was she a business owner but she was also based in East London.
The app was straightforward, easy to use and access a whole network of people in addition to my specifically assigned mentor, Emma. After phoning to arrange an introductory call, we met up for coffee and there was no wasted time before she started to ask vital questions like how can I help you? At the time we first met, I was considering opening a shop, and just needed someone else’s opinion and help with basic questions about dealing with property and what to ask the landlord. Emma was able to help with all of this and contacts that she shared with me for things like insurance saved me hours of research.
Fast forward a few months, my shop is open and we are now looking for investment. Emma introduced me to a number of people who were really able to help me with advice and contacts. I realise that you can get to the same point without these contacts but it would have taken a lot longer and, for a business where cash flow is critical, time can make a huge difference.
These days, I text Emma at least weekly with random questions and she always gets back to me. Meeting up with her once a month or two also gives me a lot of reassurance that there is someone I can run ideas by who is there to help. I am really grateful for the introduction through the app, and I would definitely be a mentor in the future so I can also give back and share my knowledge and contacts with someone else who might benefit from it.