An overwhelming majority of small firms have acknowledged the benefits that a business mentor could bring in a new poll.
A mentor is an experienced businessperson who can help you expand trade relationships, profits and sales by offering helpful feedback and acting as a sounding board to bounce ideas off.
Virgin chief Richard Branson recently claimed that mentoring can help turn promise into success.
Nearly nine in 10 companies (88%) said that a mentor could help their success, according to a new poll by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
However few are prepared to put their money where their mouths are, with just over a fifth (22%) employing a business mentor.
The same percentage claim that a lack of available results backing mentors’ impact is holding them back.
Yet BIS found that 44% of firms who employed business mentors announced a hike in turnover during the past year. This compared to under a quarter (23%) which did not.
So how can the perfect business mentor be tailored to an individual or company, especially for small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs)?
Use the right channels
One click on www.mentorsme.co.uk/ can help you arrive at your goal faster than many other sites put together. That’s because this is the country’s first gateway to connect SMEs with mentoring services. With 115 organisations and 27,000 mentors on its books, there should be one just right for you.
The answer may be on your doorstep
The most logical place is to start with a business contact you know; perhaps a former colleague or a client you’ve worked with who you have respected and admired. This has the advantage of bringing to the service a pre-existing bond and trust. But this person must also be detached enough to bring objectivity to the table.
Seek out trusted opinion
With your business contacts, there must be some associates you look up to whose recommendations you would take on board, especially in the professional services, such as law, banking and accountancy.
Business mentors should be at least just as busy as you are. So don’t leave all the work to them. So be pro-active. Display keenness in your embryonic project, follow-up your opening chats and follow-up extensively on any tips at the first meet.
Find someone who ‘clicks’
As with any relationship, you should feel a natural instant affinity with your business mentor. Chemistry is key and this means usually going with your gut instinct. A litmus test is to ask yourself the question: “Would I like to go out for a drink with this person?” Because the chances are, if you like that person’s company, you are more likely going to respond to them in a mutually communicative and honest fashion.
If you look at business mentoring like matchmaking, then there are some sites which will try and get the perfect partner for you. Rockstar can offer one-to-one mentors perfectly suited to your needs for a tiny monthly charge. Horsemouth.co.uk prefers to go down the route of offering problem-solvers for one-off solutions rather than lengthy mentor/mentored associations.