Marta's Mentoring Experience Marta's Mentoring Experience

Marta Csanyi, MA Social Work

I wanted to start my own business but had no previous experience in business. I had many questions about the business and I had no one to turn to for help. I was matched with Elaine who ran a cafe at the UEA Enterprise Centre and worked with her for 6 months. Elaine supported and guided me through the process of establishing and launching my business.

Elaine allowed me to shadow her and her staff at her cafe and I could contact her if I needed help or was in doubt. The mentoring experience helped me to learn the following:

  • how to plan the selection of products and services my patisserie has to offer
  • how to calculate prices
  • what the relevant paperwork is in relation to running a business and food hygiene
  • how to make barista-style coffee products
  • how to manage staff members and deal with customers, including complaints
  • the potential suppliers.

Elaine pointed out the weaknesses and strengths of my initial ideas and focused my attention on the sustainability of business. With her guidance, I could consider many factors in product and service planning, including location, population, potential customer base, and prices.

Elaine also highlighted the importance of a good personal life and work balance. With her guidance, I have realised that my business will more likely be successful as long as I stay passionate about my business and enjoy what I am doing. However, I have also learnt that it was okay to make mistakes at the beginning; and make sure that I had sufficient time to rest and find inspiration.

Knowing that Elaine was available and approachable if I needed help was reassuring. It was helpful that I could ask her about anything and she provided guidance in a timely manner. At the beginning, I had many questions and challenges that prevented me to move forward at that moment. Her support helped me to tackle the challenges I faced; and improve my knowledge and skills.