The Big Idea: Mentor network moves mountains for female entrepreneurs

If anyone knows first hand the momentum that mentoring can bring to a business, it’s Cathy Goddard.

As founder and owner of Lighthouse Visionary Strategies, she has lived the peaks and valleys of building a Whistler business. When she launched Lighthouse Mentor Network in 2011, Goddard opened the doors for female entrepreneurs to access powerful connections and collaborations, locally.

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Goddard’s program, nominated for the “Small Business BC Community Impact Award” three years running from 2013 to 2015, offers multiple mentor groups every season to specifically target the challenges of running a business in the Sea to Sky. Now about to head into her fifth season, Goddard has seen nearly 80 women participate, with many enrolling year after year.

Goddard facilitates every program meeting, delivering her trademark hybrid style of coaching and mentoring. With the program being highly individualized, the most effective way to share her big idea is to look at three participants who achieved success at very different stages in their businesses.

Supercharging a start up

Breaking trail to build a new business can be a scary adventure, especially if the path to success is a solo endeavour. The camaraderie of mentor groups can bring much needed comfort, while seeing peers seize opportunities and tackle challenges can really inspire.

Moselle Dibdin joined the mentor program to meet fellow entrepreneurs and build a supportive network when creating her business, Local Whistler in 2014.

“I love the mentor program for creating opportunities for me to make new connections and tap into a wealth of wisdom, tools and resources,” said Dibdin. “For me, the innovation comes from the peer group style which allows for input from people from different backgrounds and industries.”

Navigating to the next level

The range of skills needed to stock an entrepreneur’s toolbox is immense. Goddard’s network finds strength in a shared pool of resources with women from diverse industries. The mentor mixture fills any gaps meaning a growing business can move mountains much faster, using less money and energy than going it alone.

“The idea pool is so great that there is always something you can take away from each meeting,” said Sherry Baker, realtor with RE/MAX Sea to Sky Real Estate who wanted to meet more self-employed women.

The mentor motivation and personalization of the program drove big results for Baker who was inspired by new perspectives. Looking at things differently realigned her priorities and the collective expertise helped her elevate her brand.

Exit this way

Shayla Libin started Shampooch Mobile Dog Grooming in 2011 and is a regular in Goddard’s mentor program. Initially joining in 2012 to meet other female business owners while lathering up her first business, Libin most recently used the focused facilitated sessions to guide her through the phase of exiting her successful venture.

“The mentor network has taken me full circle with my business,” said Libin. “It helped me to build a successful business and to have the confidence and knowledge of taking it to the next level and selling it.”

Just as Goddard’s participants have grown, her own vision has led to new opportunities. She expanded Lighthouse Mentor Network to engage women who had an entrepreneurial spirit, but were currently employed at a local business and this fall the program will include a new Mastermind group open to both male and female entrepreneurs.

“In our region there are so many entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and intrapreneurs, that don’t always have peers they can connect and collaborate with. Cathy has created a place where we can do that,” said Amy Fast who took part in the 2015 mentor program when transitioning to a leadership role in her family business. “She has connected us with people we may never have met otherwise, and guides us towards our goals.”

Goddard on the power of mentorship

“Bringing together people that experience the Sea to Sky corridor as a unique business community with diverse challenges is hugely impactful. They bring innovative solutions that make sense here, but also expand their knowledge with current trends and resources that are relevant in a larger business sense. It is incredible to observe the “give and take” that transpires as the mentors build confidence, gather knowledge and as a result, elevate their own business success.”

Make business easy — tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce showcasing a Whistler business innovating in their sector. 

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