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Bristol Post article October 2017Guidance provides entrepreneurs with chance to grow

WHEN Bristol-based business owner Janice Tye decided to seek help from a business coach she had no expectations. She certainly did not imagine that the sessions would help her make her business successful. Today Janice Tye, who is the founder of Bristol design firm 123 Design, is a mentor herself and says she is reaping benefits from the process. She said: “Mentoring has rein­forced my experience working with peoplc. You discover so much about how other people think and ap­proach problems.

It can be incredibly lonely as a sole trader running a business. lf you try to run a business with only the knowledge in your head, you are shutting yourself in a locked room. By talking to other people you can exchange problems and you realise you are not on your own.” This Friday is National Mentoring Day, which aims to raise awareness of the benefits or mentoring to UK business owners.

The Federation of Small Business states that 70 per cent of small companies that receive mentoring survive for five years or more – that is double the rate compared with non-mentored entrepreneurs. And a recent survey by the UK’s Department for Business Innova­tion and Skills found that 94 % of SMEs using external support have seen benefits.

Acrordlnc to the research these businesses are more ambitious and have higher relative turnovers.. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the UK and we are lucky that we can set up businesses without too much trouble,” added Ms ‘l’ye. “‘the more help you can get during the first three years the better”.

Liz Sands is the director of Bristol­based small business support ser­vice BRAVE Enterprise which runs mentoring schemes for people who are currently out of work and want to set up a small company. She says there are plenty of be­nefits for the mentors too. ”The mentors have a chance to learn themselves and hear new ideas, as well as getting the op­portunity to take themselves outside their own business.” she explained. “It also gives them s sense of giving back.”

Charity sector entrepreneur Laura Salisbury lives in Bristol and is involved in a BRAVE Enterprise mentoring scheme. She is currently looking to set up an organisation that wlll support the voluntary sector with funding. “You can get upport from family and friends but a business mentor will give you objective advice. A mentor won’t just say the things you want to hear.” “Mentoring really helps with con­fidence because it <mablcs you to speak to someone who has nlready done it. My mentor knows what skills I have and what areas I need support with. “You can never have too much support and having lots of different view points and options can help give you more clarity. When it comes to mentoring  there is nothing to lose”.

But what’s the best way to find a mentor? ”For entrepreneurs looking for mentors search Google or LinkedIn for private mentors or think about business incubation or acceleration through organisations such as Or­acle, Entrepreneurial Spark or Set Squared ln Bristol,” said John Court­ney, chairman of Brlstol based Stockwood Ventures.

Mr Courtney who was shortllstcd for a SPARKle Award by the Bristol and Bath tech comnunity for his mentoring work, advises people looking for a mentor to “be clear about what you want”. He said: “ls it just grey hairs and experience, do you need help covering a functional weakness such as marketing or do you want intro­ductions? Different people need different things.”