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Why business mentoring is more than just a talking shop

Business mentoring partnerships
Mentoring for Growth brings together big and small firms to share insights

With over 200 pairings through our Mentoring for Growth programme now made, Be the Business looked at how business mentoring is more than just an opportunity to shoot the breeze and share anecdotes – it provides the kind of advice and guidance key to sustainable growth.

Mentoring for Growth is now active in four regions of the UK: Greater Manchester, London, the North East of England and Greater Birmingham and Solihull. Spearheaded by Be the Business and delivered by Local Enterprise Partnerships and Growth Hubs, it matches the leaders and managers of small and medium-sized businesses with mentors from leading organisations including Amazon, John Lewis and Partners, Siemens and GSK.

Following a six-month pilot, Mentoring for Growth has now been rolled out nationally and is supported by a suite of resources including “connect and collaborate” phone calls and an online resource community called The Hub.

To find out what kind of experiences SMEs had during the pilot, Be the Business spoke to two mentees. Liz Smith, managing director at LG Davis, joined the mentoring programme to gain an external view on the business – so she could assess which changes could be implemented to drive improvements and productivity.

As Smith put it: “I wanted a mentor to help me focus on the business rather than be on the hamster wheel of working in the business. I know our business so well and we have a lot of long-term employees. This is great for experience, customer continuity and product knowledge – but innovative ideas and discussions can be lost.”

“A massive positive is that we have had our best year for over a decade. We achieved last year’s turnover in 11 months and have made a profit for the year. We have also been able to buy another niche business through the cash generated in the improved profitability, which will further enhance L G Davis. It has been a great experience, I feel privileged to have been invited onto the programme, and the business has benefited.”

Hear why business mentoring is more than just a talking shop

Baoli Zhao was introduced to his mentor, Carl German from Siemens, after expressing an interest in how a mentor could help Allsee Technologies manage their expansion plans. “The business was established and growing rapidly, and we needed to take on more staff, which in turn meant we had to consider new larger premises. We initially wanted a mentor to equip us with the necessary management and process skills required for such a move.”

Zhao’s experience of a Siemens visit had a crucial impact on his business. “Seeing Siemens, together with the introduction to agile project management, opened our eyes to the fact that what we needed to address in our organisation was the automation and digitalisation of our processes – if we wanted to successfully continue our ambitious growth plans. We implemented a management system which has made a huge difference to our productivity.

“Carl provided us with his experience and hindsight, giving us the confidence to develop and implement something which we had no prior knowledge of. Carl has saved us time, money and helped us to increase our productivity.”

At a national roll-out launch event held in Birmingham, speakers including Be the Business and John Lewis and Partners chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield, the Rt Hon Lord Henley, Tim Pile and Birmingham mayor Andy Street spoke about the importance of mentoring and the role in can play in driving up productivity.

Sir Charlie Mayfield mentoring
Be the Business chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield
Rt Hon Lord Henley mentoring
Rt Hon Lord Henley explained why the government is so behind mentorship
Business mentor partnerships
Mentor and mentee pairings shared their experience of the pilot programme

Business secretary Greg Clark said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy which is why our modern Industrial Strategy is building the environment that ensures they continue to thrive.

“Mentoring for Growth delivered fantastic results during its pilot phase and is a great example of what can be achieved when large businesses share their insight with our small businesses to improve their productivity and help them grow.”

Find out how the Mentoring for Growth programme could be right for your business today.

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