Established, Just Launched, Mentoring

My mentoring story: Jeanette Forbes

woman leaning on balcony with manufacturing equipment behind

“I started my business, PCL Group, in 2000, when mentoring was not really seen as the ‘done’ thing.

I remember visiting one of the business support agencies for help and they allocated me a Business Mentor who had absolutely no comparable experience to my business at all.  After six weeks of sitting and listening to him telling me the football scores from the previous night, I plucked up the courage to ask him; “Did you have an IT company?”. “No” came the response, “but I had a fruit and veg shop.”  “Was this shop successful?” was my next question. “No, we went into liquidation” was his reply.  Needless to say, I did not return to my mentoring meetings and decided to try and make it on my own.

Two years later, we encountered a bad debt within our business for the sum of £179,000. Rest assured I had done my homework and no-one in business could ever expect a client to walk into your office and tell you that they have ran out of money!  But that was exactly what happened.  This time, the tables were turned and I had no-one to share my problems with, until I remembered a company Chairman from the days when I was an employee rather than an employer.  I had a certain connection with this man, he called a spade a shovel and I liked that. I think the polite word used now is ‘grounded’ for someone like him.  So, I approached him and asked if he would be prepared to advise me on what to do in this situation in order to get paid, which was a considerable amount, for the work we had done.  He did help and that is why we are still here today and have just celebrated 20 years in business – because I had the right Business Mentor this time.

Mentoring is not about being the weaker sex, it’s not about surrendering to your inabilities to resolve difficult situations, it is about being proactive and getting some solid business advice when you need it.  I can honestly say that had I not had my Business Mentor to share those difficult dark days with and get the right advice at the right time, things would have been very different and I would not be in business today.  I owe a lot to my Business Mentor and today we are still in touch from time to time.  His wisdom taught me that I can achieve anything if I try and approach it with a different mindset.”

Jeanette Forbes OBE is founder of PCL Group and a Women’s Enterprise Scotland Ambassador – read more about her business journey here. A version of this article first appeared on


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