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Business

Why finding a mentor should be at the top of your business To-Do list

By Sarah Brockwell, Director and Founder of sarahBee marketing ltd

In a nutshell, business mentors can help you develop your ideas for business growth by sharing their skills, expertise, experience and contacts.  In times of economic uncertainty (like those attributed to the Global Pandemic and EU Transition), having a mentor can give you the knowledge and confidence to survive and thrive.

Sarah Brockwell of sarahBee marketing www.sarahbeemarketing.com is a professional business mentor and has so far supported over 1,000 SMEs.  In this feature, Sarah shares some best-practice advice and tips, that she has learned during the past 10 years as a mentor.

Whether you are a start-up or existing business, you may have considered working with a mentor.  You may have even made a New Year’s Resolution to find a mentor.  If you are ‘in the market’ for a mentor then this feature gives practical advice on finding the right person for you and your business, as well as how to optimise your relationship with your mentor.  There’s even advice on how to find Government funding sources that will subsidise the cost of your mentor – so that it doesn’t cost you a penny.

It’s often said that a good mentor should be like a ‘critical friend’ but what does that actually mean?  Here are some important questions to consider…..

Sarah Brockwell

Sarah Brockwell

TOP TEN QUESTIONS TO FIND THE RIGHT MENTOR

  1. Has the mentor even owned/managed his/her own business?
  2. Is the mentor well connected/networked?
  3. Is the mentor aware of the latest government business grants/loans and finance initiatives?
  4. Will the mentor hold you accountable for the actions that he/she suggests?
  5. Does the mentor have a proven track record of success? (E.g. with client case studies)
  6. How accessible is your mentor? (E.g. face-to-face, ZOOM, telephone, email?)
  7. Will the mentor set realistic and ambitious goals for you?
  8. Does the mentor share your vision – for both your business and its industry?
  9. How ‘innovative’ is the mentor?
  10. Does the mentor have access to co-mentors with specialist and complementary skill sets?

Two resources to share with your mentor

Life is too short to reinvent the wheel, so when you are looking for resources to help you focus then here are two tried and tested tactical tools….

  1. The Business Model Canvas – go ahead, Google it. According to good ole Wikipedia, the Business Model Canvas is a ‘strategic management and lean start-up template for developing new or documenting existing business models’. It is a visual chart with elements describing a firm’s or product’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances.’  You can literally map out your business in bite size chunks like ‘key partners, market activities, key resources, value propositions, customer relationships, channels, customer segments, cost structure and revenue streams.  To download a Business Model Canvas template visit https://sarahbeemarketing.com/free-stuff/
  2. Marketing Plan – as the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail. A marketing plan is a key piece of collateral for any business. Your mentor can help you complete this – giving you a strategic roadmap for: market research, target market, positioning, competitive analysis, market strategy, budget, metrics, value proposition and SWOT.  To download a Marketing Plan document, visit https://sarahbeemarketing.com/free-stuff/

There’s no such thing as a FREE mentor – or is there?

To find a free mentor, head to your local Growth Hub. Growth Hubs are local public and private sector partnerships led by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). … They provide a mechanism for integrating national and local business support so it is easier for businesses to access the help and advice they need to thrive and grow.  There are currently 39 Growth Hubs covering the UK.  Each Growth Hub works independently and is driven by the economic requirements within its region, meaning that each of the 39 Growth Hubs will offer slightly different solutions to their neighbours.

To find your local growth hub then simply search for ‘Growth Hub near me, or Growth Hub and the name of your county’.  When you find the website of your local Growth Hub you will be able to access their list of business support programmes.  In addition, the GOV.UK website has links to Growth Hub support programmes so that you can view what is available in your area.  https://www.gov.uk/business-support-helpline

To wrap it up, a good mentor will help you through your journey into what you might think will be unknown.  Most entrepreneurs will sometimes fly by the seat of their pants, and a mentor will be there to fly with you – overcoming the lows and scaling the heights.

About Sarah

A professional business mentor, Sarah founded sarahBee marketing in 2010, on a budget of just £250, as a one-stop shop providing no-nonsense marketing and PR support.  Since then, her company has supported over 1,000 entrepreneurs with mentoring and marketing support.

Sarah is passionate about business and has been rewarded with six business awards (including Essex Businesswoman of the Year).  Sarah is a regular speaker at conferences and also on BBC radio.

Sarah has 30 years’ experience in global marketing and was VP marketing of a $13bn software company in the USA. She is media trained by the BBC and Press Association. She was hand-picked by Essex County Council to mentor SMEs in the ‘Essex Innovation Programme’.  With her team of associates, she currently supports businesses across the East of England.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahbrockwell/

 

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