Ana File-Heather, the 2017 winner of the Emerging Entrepreneur Award, is one of the locals who has really benefitted from the programme over the past two years.
“It’s been fantastic,” File-Heather said. “The first time I met Janet (Brooker, one of the mentors), she asked to look at my books.
“She basically went over it completely and asked me all these questions about how I run my business.”
Brooker’s assertion was that the prices were too low, and that File-Heather would need to slightly increase them to make some money.
“And I went away thinking that there’s no way I could do it. I wanted my product to be affordable, and I was really nervous,” File-Heather explained.
“But nobody batted an eye, so that was the first thing she taught me.”
Even outside of the designated weeks, File-Heather still reaches out to Brooker for advice, as she believes that the external help has been crucial to the growth over the past two years of her Fave Designs business.
File-Heather said she sees a stigma around people reaching out and asking for help, which might be why some people are reluctant to take advantage of the programme.
However, she relayed something that Brooker told her, which is why she feels comfortable reaching out.
“Janet said that even the giant corporations around the world still have external mentorship.
“That’s because you really need that other person to bounce ideas off to make sure that you’re on the right track. I know it’s really helped me.”
Brooker also spoke about the reluctance from some people, and assured that confidentiality was something that no one should worry about.
“We’re volunteers and we all come from a business background, so we can offer a wealth of business information to help grow businesses,” Brooker said.
“But we take everything with us. We don’t share anything that is confided with us, not even with the Chamber of Commerce.”