Closing the ‘mentoring gap’ could help the 4,900,000 small businesses in UK double their chances of increasing turnover, generating millions of pounds for the UK economy, according to Sage.
According to research by Sage, there is a significant gap between those businesses who see the value in mentoring and those who currently use mentors. Sage surveyed more than 1,200 small and medium sized businesses in the UK and found 88% of businesses in the UK acknowledge that mentoring can help them to succeed. However, less than a quarter (22%) are currently making use of business mentors. Mentoring can have a significant impact over business success. According to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills nine out of ten businesses who had worked with a mentor said it had a positive impact on their business. It also found that nearly twice as many mentored business reported an increase in turnover (44%), than non-mentored counterparts (23%). Similarly twice as many mentored businesses had hired more staff (10%), than non-mentored businesses (5%).
According to a survey of Sage customers, the top three challenges facing businesses were controlling their costs (32%), effectively marketing themselves (31%) and having a broad enough customer base (27%). Sage’s Business Index research found that business leaders in the UK would be most likely to turn to personal contacts for business advice, rather than experienced business specialists. Almost two thirds (60%) said they would speak to someone they know and trust, followed by and an accountant (48%), and a peer from a similar business (42%). Nearly two in five firms (38%) said they would trade bodies or organisations for help. According to the national study, nearly a quarter of UK businesses (23%) highlighted a shortage of information on mentoring as a barrier to its widespread adoption, while 22 per cent said that a lack of proof that mentoring can help businesses to grow hindered its uptake.
Sage is launching Business Navigators to bring together some of the finest minds in business to help educate small businesses about the importance of business mentoring and how to establish a beneficial mentoring relationship.
Brendan Flattery, CEO 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.”
Top five points to consider around mentoring –
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.
Agree 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.
*According to the Federation of Small Business statistics as of 2013.