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Adding crucial hard skills to a new business with a mentor

Building a business and a well-structured team is one of the hardest undertakings you could do in your professional life. It’s an event that comes with huge benefits, but sometimes also immense costs both on a financial, personal and mental level.

In an attempt to help more people in a topic he’s passionate about, Hon Tjuin started working as the first IT hire at a speech therapy business in Singapore and soon realized the same thing as so many early team members before him – this is a lot of work.

Early employees and founding team members are often multi-talents, juggling multiple disciplines in the business. Be it combining design and engineering, balancing the fine line of product management and business needs.

Hon Tjuin quickly experienced the same. “There’s so much to do and we were really in dire need of some UX expertise”. He had built a product and website for the business that worked technically but had its flaws on the UX side. “We broke every simple UX directive there is, from standardized CTA buttons to repeatable design components”

Strengthening your team instead of growing it

It’s a common struggle in startups to have a founding team that misses a key component in their skillset, and there are a few ways to fix it.

  • Hiring someone

  • Recruiting another co-founder

  • Training your team

Strengthening your current team often becomes the preferred way of doing things, but it’s certainly no easy feat. “Most of the UX design courses I found online were mainly just about how to conduct user testing and drawing wireframes, I wouldn’t receive training in the thought process of UX design – it’d lack the real-life experience”

Depending on the budget, hiring the role might be unattainable as well. But not only that – your current team will still lack the experience and produce mediocre results, that the new hires will have to fix. “They might produce the design solution and maybe even explain why they came to that result, but I wouldn’t have the ability to produce such results that I can replicate independently.”

That’s when Hon Tjuin found MentorCruise and his mentor James, an experienced designer of a caliber that any startup would have trouble hiring otherwise: “One thing that made James stand out is that he undoubtedly has a strong reputation of being experienced in his field. I was sure of seeing him featured as a guest on one of Adobe’s YouTube channels. ”

From day one, Hon Tjuin received training, assistance, reading material, and feedback that would steer him towards his goal of strengthening the skills of the team and creating a stronger product.

Accountability in building a business

Is training all that a mentor is good for? Definitely not. Building a new product is hard and as we all know, you’re not always running the best odds. It is said that 90% of ventures give up and shut down their operations within the first five years. A majority of them don’t survive the first one.

An experienced mentor like James knows what it takes to bite through the heavy times. “A positive source of stress to be accountable and get my work moving forward because I have to produce results before the next call, which I have to utilize fully”. Feeling a stronger sense of responsibility, there’s a more vital need to hit goals that might otherwise get forgotten.

As such, a mentor was able to get their team to a new level. “The initial learning curve was steep”, says Hon Tjuin. An experience that leaves the business more resilient and Hon Tjuin himself has a few more tools in his belt.

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