Mentors important to growing any business

Mentorship: Lisa Burling speaking at Rare Birds at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach on Tuesday night. Picture: Greg Ellis.
Mentorship: Lisa Burling speaking at Rare Birds at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach on Tuesday night. Picture: Greg Ellis.

The importance of mentors for business growth was highlighted this week at the second Inspiring Rare Birds networking event in Wollongong.

Illawarra/Shoalhaven Rare Birds global ambassador Lisa Burling, of LBPR, spoke about her experience with mentors during a panel discussion at the Novotel.

Ms Burling said her mentors were like “the rudders of a ship” that nobody notices but play an important role helping to steer confidently in calm and rough seas. She said it was important to note different people connected in different ways and that was good.

“I have had numerous mentors throughout my career and I don’t think I have actually realised many have been mentors until I have looked back and seen what a pivotal role they have had as my career has grown quickly. Or when I have made some important decisions with their help”.

Ms Burling has not been matched with a Rare Birds mentor yet but she does have someone she works with very closely who she does consider a mentor.

“I have usually gone to women for advice and support but this particular gentleman and I connect. And what is great about that is we connect on a values level. He is actually a client of ours..who runs a global scientific medical company. Over a random conversation at the Harbourfront when he was down here doing some work with University of Wollongong we started to talk about values and about my business and where it could go. We realised very quickly this was a very special relationship. He has actually become very critical to where my business is going”.

A fortnight ago Ms Burling spent time with her mentor again. And they looked at some more ideas about her business is heading. “I consider him a confidant. I can be my honest raw self with him which I think is really important. He is also very honest with me. I think you need that. Someone who can look at you and tell you what you need to consider”.

The panel discussion followed Inspiring Rare Birds founder Jo Burston announcing funding support from the Australian Government for 100 mentoring scholarships to regional women business owners in traditionally under-served demographics. The scholarships are open to women in the Illawarra and will provide high calibre mentors to help them grow their business and be successful entrepreneurs.

The scholarships are funded under the Australian Government’s Women’s Leadership and Development Strategy and applications are being sought in regional areas from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women; women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds including migrants and refugees, and women from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Mr Burston said mentoring was a proven form of real-time learning through the transfer of know-how, experience and wisdom. Inspiring Rare Birds is expected to host up to eight networking events a year in Wollongong.

Ms Burston’s vision is for more woman to be given the opportunity to become an entrepreneur by choice.

Illawarra events will allow people running their own businesses to connect with high calibre entrepreneurs and individuals. It also provides businesswomen with access to mentoring, funding and education opportunities.

Lisa Burling. Picture: Greg Ellis.

Lisa Burling. Picture: Greg Ellis.