07 Jul Mentorship made the difference – Walter Francis
Towards the end of 2019, Walter Francis was inspired to start his own business. “I’ve always had a great connection with people and also excellent at using soft skills to influence – so I decided to create a space for discussion on books which was started by my friend and I.” From this awesome idea, a book club emerged! “I found a physical space at the Remax Facility in St. Augustine and got persons to attend sessions on our Book Club.” Walter is also a graduate of the Cash Flow Club and was able to leverage his sales’ skills with the soft skills to excel in this venture.
But Walter got a word of encouragement from his entrepreneurial spirit…”Because of the overwhelming response from patrons to the book club, I decided to monetize it.” Given the level of virtuosity exuded by this initiative great things happened! “The book club began attracting high level professionals who appreciated its value and purpose” exclaimed Walter. The club enters its third year in October of this year.
The Mentorship Journey
Walter was ecstatic in describing the beginning of his mentorship journey. ”I have no formal business skills so when I heard about YBTT on the radio I connected immediately to become part of the JumpSTART Programme.” He graduated in April 2021 and said, “I got great value from the programme which provided me with extremely valuable experience which prepared me for mentorship.”
Walter is extremely proud and thankful to have Stephanie Khan as his Mentor; as he puts it, “Stephanie arranged for various subject-matter experts to speak to her mentees plus we benefitted from her knowledge and business insights.”
Walter swanks about his Agri-Business “SOON Sibling Growers” which emerged before his book club. But why Agri? “I was inspired to establish this business by my mother who had medical issues and I wanted to improve her health through home-grown produce. I was also preparing for food shortages arising out of the pandemic.” Walter specializes in growing fresh leafy vegetables (gourmet lettuces) and regular seasonings including chive, celery and thyme. In describing current sales “sales are done through orders; business has been going well thus far and plans are in the pipeline to expand.”
For Walter “mentorship is an extremely important component in becoming a successful entrepreneur.” He describes his Mentor, Stephanie Khan as “excellent in providing criticisms – blunt and honest; she told me that I’m doing too much and that I needed to focus on my core competencies.” Walter added, “the best part of having a mentor is to tailor their knowledge and expertise to the mentee’s specific challenges; another major component is getting real-time feedback to help improve yourself and the business”.
Advice to Young Entrepreneurs
“Give mentorship a try as having a mentor serves as a reminder that entrepreneurship is not a lonely experience” said Walter.