11:30am – Business Sector Group – Business Mentors

John Hibberd

Community-based business mentoring schemes can increase the long term viability of small business by 400% and improve the chances of successful business start-ups.

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The Key Role of Business Mentors for Small Business

The planning stage of setting up a small business often involves a range of complex decisions and a fair amount of guesswork. At the ideas stage there are opportunities that many businesses miss, one is the chance to find a mentor who has worked in a relevant field that can help guide the businesses on its initial trajectory. During all phases of a business’s life a mentor can be crucial to growth and success. Business mentors come in many forms; today they may be called business coaches, business consultants, business advisors or even life coaches. The one thing they have in common is that they can all help either start-ups or established businesses by providing proven ideas and practical coaching and strategy programs. One of the largest and relatively untapped sources of knowledge lies with retirees who hold a wealth of industry experience still relevant after retirement has been sought. An effective mentor program looks to tap this huge potential by partnering industry experts with local businesses requiring industry expertise.

The Australian government across all states already has active mentor programs, information online includes: https://www.business.gov.au/assistance/mentor-program-nsw And there are a myriad of other initiatives offering mentor opportunities such as https://www.sbms.org.au which offers a range of mentors in different fields charging an average of $100 an hour for their services, far less than comparative professional consultancy services.

It is not only small business looking for mentorship, business mentoring is now being used by larger and more established businesses looking to grow by utilising those with past experience to add to their overall strategy. The argument follows that rather than spending time working out problems, it’s far easier to simply ask those who have already solved the same problems in past business careers. This approach does require a level of humility and respect some have yet to achieve, but the ones embracing the mentor strategy are experiencing the benefits through increased performance. For many business leaders taking on a mentor is a journey of personal self-improvement and development.

With the online revolution occurring so rapidly another phenomenon has developed where older business owners are looking to younger mentors who have already had success in the digital arena. This has turned mentorship on its head with big established brands and many small businesses requiring guidance from younger entrepreneurs experienced in digital marketing to keep their competitive edge. Marketing channels that are driving leading businesses did not exist in the last decade and as a result age has been removed as a determining factor when assessing modern marketing success.

For tech start-ups with a fast burnout culture having a business mentor is more important than ever, where traditional business can have a fairly shallow learning curve online start-ups often have to make pivotal decisions early and regularly to survive.