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Case study


I discovered who I was as a business person

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Taiwo’s mentor helped her to rediscover her confidence, work in a way that suits her, and practice self-care to better support others.

Taiwo Dayo-Payne found herself in a position recognisable to many at the beginning of 2022, with business struggling to pick back up following the pandemic. But after accessing mentoring through Be the Business, she and her coaching enterprise have a new lease on life.

Taiwo’s initial mentoring experiences helped her realise the value of a long-term programme.

“I chose the three-month programme at first, but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I’d come out of a period where there hadn’t been much in terms of sales, so I was almost in a survivor mentality and trying to get things done in three months. But sometimes you have to experience things to know they’re not right for you.

“What was good about the 12-month option was, the first couple of meetings with the person I ended up working with, we spent the first hour and a half just chatting, and it enabled us to see we had shared values. And that’s really, really important,” Taiwo explained.

I also felt that this person wasn’t trying to change or fix me. He met me where I was, and reassured me that a lot of things I was worried about were normal in business. And I was at a time where I needed to build some resilience so that I could bounce back from knockbacks.

Finding yourself in business

For Taiwo, the most important takeaway was to regain sight of herself.

“My mentor asked where I see myself in five years, and I assumed he meant the business. And it enabled me to realise that I had been so focused on the business and trying to make it work,” she explained. “That was near the end of the year, and I read my journals back from the year and I’d written in May that I thought I was beginning to burn out, and I’d completely ignored it. So that all came back into view.”

The realisation led Taiwo to take some time out from the business to focus on her personal growth: “I took a couple of months where I just stepped back from the business, the only thing I kept doing was my LinkedIn newsletter. I gave myself time to rest, recuperate and take stock. I read around what it is that I do with my clients, because that’s the kind of thing I wasn’t doing for myself, and went back to my creative writing.”

Defining productivity in context

After her break, Taiwo launched a new four-day free program and saw new levels of success. “I didn’t get huge numbers, but I had a good conversion rate from people signing up to completing the course, and for the first time, the people that started completed all the way through, did all the homework. It was really encouraging because it gave me proof of concept, and out of it came a client, too” she explained.

The main thing I got from my mentor was finding myself again.

Stepping away from the things that other voices in business tell you to do, and giving myself permission to work in the way that suits how I am, not the way everybody else is doing it. And in doing that, I’ve got better at managing my day, and getting more done in less time because those are my windows of productivity,” Taiwo continued.

Taking this time out also enabled Taiwo to evaluate the business advice she’d received, and pinpoint what success looks like in her day as an entrepreneur. “Productivity means different things to different people. It can look like you’re not being productive if you can’t define it in output, but good quality work can be another area where you can identify productivity,” she said.

Self-care for business success

Taiwo’s advice for fellow business owners thinking about seeking mentoring is to be clear about what you need from it. “Not necessarily clear about the outcome, but to think what it is about themselves that needs to grow and what attributes you would like from your mentor, so you have clarity about what may or may not work for you going into your meetings,” she explained.

“Something I express to anyone, whether it’s your business or personal life, is you have to give yourself permission to feel your feelings, because actually you’re making things worse when you don’t. Everyone around you benefits when you start giving yourself that self-care.”

The next step in Taiwo’s journey is to explore freelance business support.

“When you're a solopreneur, you're wearing so many different hats, sometimes it can be quite difficult to see the wood for the trees. And it’s important for me to focus on what I bring to the business – my skills as a coach, my writing skills, my spirituality as a preacher”

“There are some things I can do, but other people can do it better and quicker, so why don’t I just pay somebody to do that? For instance, getting someone else to break down my writing into social media posts, and posting them. Or I’d like to start going live again, and I could get somebody who is good with video to splice down my live sessions for me to post. So that’s been a great outcome from all of this, I’m remembering myself.”

Could mentoring help you to take your business to the next level? Be the Business’ Strive programme offers support to ethnic minority small business owners – find out more about Strive and apply here.

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