The benefits of a business mentor
Your first foray into entrepreneurship can be intimidating, but a business mentor can guide you through the challenges and opportunities.
Why contact a mentor?
The simplest reason for seeking out a business or enterprise mentor is that companies that do so are more likely to stay in business and grow. A report from BVM found that start-ups have a 1 in 4 better chance of surviving over three years if they have a mentor. And 95% of people found that their mentor gave them more confidence to succeed.
Advice on getting started in business
Mentors can arrange to meet you regularly in person or by phone, usually once a month for up to a year. Their free advice and independent opinions can be worth their weight in gold when nurturing your start-up. When Nichola English was growing her style-coaching business, she received invaluable advice from her mentor Sophie. “She helped me set out my business objectives and get myself out there, market myself more and not be afraid to show people who I am and what I do.”
A sounding board for ideas
If you’re building a business from scratch, it’s easy to make costly mistakes. An enterprise mentor can act as a sounding board for ideas and help you to avoid making decisions that could end up going nowhere.
“As a single head of a web start-up, one of the biggest challenges is the inherent limitation of only one mind wrestling strategy and operations,” says Lamia Walker, who started the house sitting website HouseSit Match. “This is where a good mentor match can super charge your ideas, or help you save resources by challenging a train of thought that may ultimately lead you down the wrong path.”
A way to build contacts and networks
It can be tough starting out in a new sector, but an established business mentor can help to put you in touch with the right people to succeed. Ben Jones started the reupholstering business Furniture Medic with the aim of targeting commercial clients.
He got in touch with Lloyds Bank Relationship Director Andrew Clark Hutchison through the Business Mentoring Programme of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce after he found it difficult to get access to local bar and restaurant owners. “Andrew has put me in touch with some excellent contacts in the Edinburgh hospitality industry,” Ben says. “I think the support I have had from Andrew has benefited me in quite subtle ways, it has started to open doors and get things going.”
Your next steps
If you think that a mentor might help your business, there are various resources you can use:
- Search for a mentor. Mentorsme.co.uk can connect small- and medium-sized businesses with mentors across the UK.
- Go to a mentor event. SPEDI, the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs and Lloyds Banking Group organise various ‘Meet a Mentor’ events across the country.
Further advice and support
If you want to share your knowledge and help other enterprises to succeed by becoming a mentor yourself, the Association of Business Mentors can provide training.
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