by: Celia Bell

I chose mentoring…

When is it time to turn the business over to the next generation? This is always a tough call.

For me, I had birthed a business, and now it was time to let another generation carry it forward. Just as it’s hard to let your children go, it is the same for a business that you helped start and develop. Sometimes, you just have to let something go in order for it to grow.

I had reinvented myself about every 10 years and now it was time to do it again.

I had held different positions to fit my availability of time and lifestyle. I had been a teacher; I had been a director of two not-for-profits; and I had been a VP of a bank. In addition, I had helped start a small business, which really tied all my entrepreneurial skills and interests together.

This part of the journey would be different. No salary! I would not read P&L statements or worry about the bottom line. The next part of my voyage would be different. What would this trip look like?

This time I was more methodical in my planning. I took people to lunch to pick their brains to ask how they organized their life after a working career. I read articles. I contemplated what I wanted my life to look and feel like. These next years were to be more balanced: continual learning, spiritual growth and physical development – all in the context of a loving extended family. In other words, I would ensure a little something for the brain, body and spirit.

I knew how and where to go for the spiritual and physical components and I knew how to be more involved with my family. But how was I to keep the brain cells alive and my curiosity satisfied for the learning part?

I had been a part of so many changes in technology in the business world and I could see that there would be many more to come. I wanted to remain on top of it and did not want to be a dinosaur. First I signed up for continuing education classes at the University of Texas with one of the OLLI groups (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), which was made up of individuals like me – 55 plus years old and with similar goals.

As to continuing to stay current in business and give back to the community, I remembered once going to SCORE Chicago for business advice. I googled SCORE Austin and found there was a very active chapter working with entrepreneurs in this dynamic and ever-growing city. I made an application and was accepted as an executive business mentor. As the first woman to belong to the chapter I was well received and fit right in. It was not long after my initial training and counselling that I knew I was in the right place.

The experience I had starting and managing the growth of a small business was the perfect fit for my giving back to the community, using my experience to mentor other entrepreneurs. Working with clients at SCORE was not only inspirational, but also personally fulfilling because it forced me to continuously learn so I could better serve all my clients. Working with SCORE also allowed me to share what I learned from one client with another.

So if you are wondering what to do after your successful career and would like to give a little something back, share your experiences and be an integral part of someone’s dream, then you need to volunteer at SCORE.

As for me, I don’t regret a minute of it.

Contact the SCORE Austin office and inquire about becoming a SCORE business mentor. National inquiries can be accessed here.

About The Author

Celia Bell is a business leader and innovator who has founded and grown an array of businesses, including BusinesSuites, which she helped grow from one business center in Austin to 12 centers across the country. After a long career as a COO and in executive positions, Celia is now a business mentor for SCORE, helping to inspire, guide and develop entrepreneurship and innovation in the nation’s future business owners and leaders. Celia has been recognized by the Small Business Association as SCORE Volunteer of the Year and by the national SCORE office with the Platinum Leadership Award.

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