As a provider of growth capital to ambitious businesses, we’re strong advocates of sustainable business growth. Our team see scores of business plans every year from business owners striving for just that, and equally we see the impact that growth then has on the local economy. However, we also see the challenges faced when trying to achieve this progression.
Business owners are confronted with it every day – the growth agenda, the need for scale-up businesses etc. But if it was easy surely everybody would be doing it – if scaling leads to increased profits, a more sustainable business and a valuable contribution to wider economic growth, then surely it should be top of all ambitious business owner’s agendas?
The truth is it’s rarely that straight forward. To scale effectively you need to take time out to revisit your strategy, consider recruiting new staff or upgrading your systems, or even consider targeting new markets or developing new products. All of that takes time, fresh thinking and commitment (and investment).
This is where a mentor could really help accelerate your business to the next level. When carefully selected, a mentor can bring specialist knowledge and assistance focussed either on your sector or specific business mission. Taking the time to concentrate on a scaling strategy focusses the thought process and helps establish a clear path for a high growth strategy.
Perhaps surprisingly, local scale-up success story Sage reports that only 25% of small and medium sized businesses currently make use of business mentors, a figure The North East Local Enterprise Partnership, through their Growth through Mentoring initiative have pledged to address.
‘Growth through Mentoring is a programme to support business owners with high growth potential and a real ambition, to grow and scale’. As a business NEL have experienced the benefits of this initiative first hand – “There’s no limit to what you can learn,” with Yvonne Gale, NEL Fund Managers.
Yvonne found the programme extremely rewarding, commenting ‘I firmly adhere to the idea that there’s no limit to what you can learn and how you can improve. There’s lots of information online which we can learn from but it’s totally different from someone’s lived experience and I was keen to have the opportunity to learn one-to-one from a business leader, using their personal experience’.
Don’t just take our word for it. The UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills reports that 94% of SMEs using external support have seen benefits, and these firms are more ambitious and have higher relative turnovers. Furthermore, the FSB suggests that 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more, which is double the rate compared with non-mentored entrepreneurs.
So why not reduce the pressure and take advantage of a business mentor either through the Growth Through Mentoring programme or one of the other mentor matching programmes? Their ideas, connections and skills could just provide the inspiration you’re missing to drive your business forward.
Statistics provided by: http://nationalmentoringday.org/facts-and-faq/