Business mentors could help East of England firms double turnover, study finds

Mentoring could help firms double their turnover. Picture: PA Mentoring could help firms double their turnover. Picture: PA

Friday, June 6, 2014
11:43 AM

More than 500,000 firms in the East of England could double their chances of boosting turnover if they enlisted the help of a business mentor, a study has found.

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Top five mentoring tips

• Find the right mentor: Look for someone who has experience in your industry and understands your needs. On top of that, they need to be a good listener, have the right technical skills to advise, and be willing to introduce you to useful contacts.

•Clear expectations: Both you and your mentor should be clear about your expectations and what you want to achieve from the relationship.

•Agreed upon rules: Agree some clear rules so that both parties know what is expected from them and to ensure you are both fully committed to the mentoring relationship and how it will work.

•Trust: The point of a mentor is to push you to do things you might not have done otherwise. You must have faith in the guidance you are given otherwise the whole relationship will fall down.

•Honesty: Be open with your mentor – let them know how you are feeling, the pressures you are under, what is working well and what isn’t.

A survey of 1,200 small and medium sized business found that 85pc admitted that mentoring would help them increase their success, but only 12pc are using business mentors, according to the study by the software provider Sage.

It comes as the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) revealed that nine of out of 10 firm which worked with a mentor said it had a positive impact on their business, while nearly twice as many mentored business reported an increase in turnover (44pc), than non-mentored counterparts (23pc).

Brendan Flattery, chief executive of Sage UK and Ireland, said: “The Federation of Small Businesses states that 70 per cent of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more, which is double the rate compared with non-mentored entrepreneurs. 
“Small businesses account for 99.9 per cent of all private sector businesses in the UK and providing them with the tools and confidence to succeed can have a huge impact on the UK economy.

“Small and medium sized businesses are the engine room of the global economy and so we should all be doing what we can to ensure their success. Business Navigators will bring together leading business and mentoring figures to work out why this gap exists, what we can do to overcome it and how mentors and mentees can get the most of their relationship.”

According to a survey of Sage customers, the top three challenges facing businesses were controlling their costs (32pc), effectively marketing themselves (31pc) and having a broad enough customer base (27pc).

Sage’s Business Index research found that business leaders in the East of England would be most likely to turn to personal contacts for business advice, rather than experienced business specialists.

More than half (59pc) said they would speak to someone they know and trust, followed by an accountant (42pc) and a peer from a similar business (37pc).

• Do you have a business story for the Eastern Daily Press? Contact business writer Ben Woods on 01603 772426, or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk

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