Meet the Mentors: Bob Bell

At Tree Shepherd our aim is to support the growth of local enterprises and to encourage anyone who wishes to enter the world of entrepreneurship to take the leap. Part of our service is that we offer free, confidential business advice clinics online to anyone who has been on our courses, and/or living in Lambeth, Southwark or Westminster, with an experienced business advisers.

Our mentors are selected by us because they can empathise with someone who is starting from scratch. Plus, each and every single one of our trainers have considerable practical experience of running a small business, so are able to offer you the exact guidance you need when embarking on your business journey – something which can sometimes be a very daunting and overwhelming experience. With some typical areas of support including, but not limited to:

  • Getting started
  • How to get business and win customers
  • Essential business finance
  • Company registration and legal issues.

No matter what their size, all businesses operate under the same basic principles. Throughout his working career, Bob Bell has been looking at companies and how they perform, seeing the good and the bad decisions made by them and how sometimes they have been drastically affected by circumstances outside of their control.

No one can plan for the unknown, but you can be aware of situations that might happen. Bob can help with business plans, which may be preparing complex spreadsheets, or just saying what’s in your head. Having heard your plans he can then offer his opinion of the next steps to consider. If you are looking for finance help (loan or grant), Bob can help you prepare your application. You may just want somebody to bounce ideas off before going further, and Bob is more than happy to do that.

So, what does Bob have to say about his experience as a businessman and mentor at Tree Shepherd?

1) What is your background and history before becoming a mentor?

I worked in finance for 45 years and nearly all of this was in lending – with clients ranging from personal borrowers to large international corporations. What I learnt is that, surprisingly, the same issues apply to nearly every person and business, it’s just the scale that is different. The aims of wanting to be successful were the same. I worked with them to ensure that to the best of my ability they achieved their goals.

2) Why should someone become a mentor/trainer?

I would encourage anybody who has business skills to become a mentor or trainer, it’s a great way to utilise your skills and help others.

People have great ideas but are often not sure how to put them into practice – I love working with my mentees to help grow their concept into a functioning, growing enterprise. It’s immensely satisfying that you can use your skills to help others.

3) Any advice about becoming an entrepreneur?

Have faith in yourself but also recognise that you may need help. Recognising this and accepting the help are massive steps towards success.

There is absolutely no shame in needing or asking for help.

4) What would you say to someone thinking about starting their own business?

Many people think that because they are good at something they can make a business of it. However just because you can cook great food doesn’t necessarily mean you can run a restaurant.

Also, doing something because you enjoy it is different from doing it every day. Therefore think carefully about what your life would look like if you started a business. Would you have or could you get people to help you with areas you are less sure about or wouldn’t have the time to do? Would you be able to make tough decisions that may impact others?

5) How do you juggle work/life balance? 

For many people, particularly those who are self employed or running a business it’s difficult to “switch off”. There are very few people who live to work, most of us work to live. It is useful to sit back on a regular basis and think about what we are achieving. It’s common knowledge that nearly everybody regrets that they worked so much and missed out on other things.

If you’d like to make the most of our business advice clinics and mentoring or training schemes, visit our website for more information and to see whether you may be eligible for free meetings.