I have been involved at a senior level in several large corporates. However, in later years I have owned and managed my own retail & financial services businesses such as The Business Engine. This has given me a good all-round background - large & smaller businesses. My professional background is in law.
From your experience, why would you recommend ‘mentoring’ to a business?
Mentoring is a very cost-effective way to gain knowledge & experience from someone who has likely faced the same challenges. To gain the equivalent knowledge & support through commercial channels would be out of reach for most small businesses.
What do you see as the key attributes in being an effective mentor?
It is important to be a good listener, and as a mentor you also have to be prepared to be decisive with your advice to clients.
What’s some of the more important or even practical benefits a business or business owner can gain from being mentored?
The benefit to business owners of having an experienced mentor assist with your thinking & planning is invaluable. It’s also very common for owners of small businesses to feel very isolated and alone, so the value in simply having a good mentor as a sounding board can’t be underestimated.
What’s the most satisfying feature for you about being a mentor?
It is most satisfying to see a business flourishing as a result of your involvement. Making business lives better is the best return!
How much of ‘business mentoring’ is also about developing and guiding the personal qualities of the person being mentored?
There’s certainly a reasonable amount of that development involved, however developing a business owner or entrepreneur’s commercial skills is also a very common need.
From your time as a mentor what’s a scenario/area where you’ve felt you’ve really been able to make a difference?
From my experience, I’d have to say ‘pricing’. Many small businesses under value their products/services. I have pushed several business owners to increase prices against their instincts. Every time it has worked – the customers have not complained, and the business has experienced improved profit. The lesson from this is - if your product/service is good, then customers will accept modest increases in price over time.