Telling the truth about SME life today

Strong mentors: The secret weapon of savvy SME owners

The well-documented failure rate for startups and smaller businesses often leaves entrepreneurs pondering the question “How do I ensure my companys survival into the small hours.

In my experience, being a successful leader isnt about having all of the answers, or for that matter, spending all of your capital on pricey consultants to answer burning questions.

For a small business owner, cultivating strong relationships with trusted mentors or implementing a mentoring programme among employees can be one of the best investments he or she can make.

And Im not alone in thinking this: according to entrepreneur and former Dragons’ Den panellist Theo Paphitis, almost 50 per cent of startups fail in the first two years partly because they dont know where to go for funding or lack other critical knowledge.

In addition, the power of mentorship is widely leveraged within enterprises with more than 70 per cent of companies in the Fortune 500 now offering formal mentoring programmes to their employees. In the UK, 75 per cent of companies use formal coaching programmes, a more short-term form of mentoring, as a development tool for their staff.

Its now time for smaller organisations to reap the benefits too.

Research suggests almost five million small UK businesses could double their chances of increasing their turnover by using mentors. In fact, smaller businesses with mentor relationships are twice as likely to report an increase in turnover compared to those that do not.

Mentors can bring a breadth of skills, knowledge and real world experience. Tapping into the expertise of an experienced entrepreneur or enterprise business leader, can help provide a whole new perspective and help leaders focus on whats most important.

Read more about how mentors can help a business:

Small business owners often dont have access to formal management or leadership training, or to senior colleagues who can be called on for advice. Many people in larger organisations may take these resources for granted, but continually benefit from them.

In talking to our small business customers, they often speak about how, when it comes down to choosing investors, it isnt just about the capital they offer, but the advice and experience those investors provide can be even more important.

However, acknowledging the importance of mentors is just the first step for small businesses.

Continue reading on page two…

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