Ex-international calls on business owners to be mentors


Former England International footballer Danny Mills has called on business owners in the Sheffield City Region – which includes substantial parts of Derbyshire – to be mentors and help would-be entrepreneurs into self-employment.

Speaking at the Launchpad Mentoring Celebration Evening showcasing the contribution mentors can make to the local economy, Danny said everyone could learn from them and urged existing business owners to get involved.

The event marked the finale of a special month of activities designed to showcase the contributions made by business mentors. It was organised by Launchpad Mentoring,  part of the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub, and saw a range of new entrepreneurs and business owners who have benefitted from the programme take part.

Delegates were given the chance to hear some of the success stories achieved, given an exclusive viewing of a new video designed to showcase some of the reasons why mentors give their time towards helping others, whilst during his keynote speech, Danny explored how mentoring had shaped his career, on and off the football pitch.

When Danny’s footballing career was cut short he built a career helping to transform the fortunes of a number of failing businesses including the West Cornwall Pasty Company, which was rescued from administration and sold earlier this year. A runner-up in the 2012 Celebrity Masterchef, he also acts as a trustee for the Jane Tomlinson appeal as well as contributing to an FA Commission, designed to review English football.

He said: “We can all learn from mentoring. Throughout my career, I have always benefited from mentors. Mentors have supported me in many different ways, from helping me to manage my financial affairs and begin planning for a career after football to learning what it takes to become an effective broadcaster. When I took part in Celebrity Masterchef a few years ago, I didn’t hesitate in approaching others for advice.

“A good mentor isn’t someone who tells you what to do, or dictates a particular course of action. Good mentors draw upon their experiences to help others make the right decisions for themselves. The Launchpad programme is a great example of how businesses from different backgrounds are coming together to help transform obstacles into opportunities.

“The simple truth is that in many cases, those who are experienced, knowledgeable and have truly mastered their subject area are keen to inspire others to share their passion with others.

“As both someone who has benefitted from mentoring in the past and also acting as a mentor to help others, it can be a thoroughly rewarding experience for both the mentor and the mentee and everyone wins.”

Irshad Akbar, Business Mentoring Manager at Launchpad, said: “Our very first Mentoring Month has proved to be a great success. We have seen more business owners join the programme, giving us the chance to build a strong local economy which is driven by the spirit of collaboration and sharing our own expertise.

“Danny’s positive experiences of mentoring illustrate the important role mentoring can play in realising your ambitions. Running a business, especially for individuals who have little or no business experience, can be a lonely experience and it can sometimes be hard to understand the implications of decisions we face.

“The Launchpad Mentoring programme was developed to help new business owners connect with experienced business owners who are prepared to share their knowledge with others. Many of the business owners who take part in the programme recognise the value of giving something back to their local community and for both mentor and mentee it can be a rewarding journey.“

Since the programme was launched in April 2016, more than 100 businesses from across the Sheffield City Region have benefitted from mentoring relationships. To find out how Launchpad Mentoring can help your business, or to sign the pledge to become a mentor, please call: 01302 736 062 or email launchpadmentoring@doncaster.gov.uk.