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Running a small business can be a lonely experience. If you've ever felt that your business could benefit from a little one-on-one help from someone more knowledgeable than you, then you're not alone.

But what's the answer? The advent of the new High Growth Coaching scheme in addition to the Merlin Mentoring programme means that Enterprise Hub Directors can provide alternative types of SUPPORT where they feel clients could really benefit from something extra to help their businesses develop.

If you are building a business with significant growth potential and you feel that working with a business mentor or coach could unlock potential and accelerate growth then contact your local Hub Director to find out more.

The Mentor
A business mentor is an experienced and successful business person who can provide a wise head to turn to. "A common reason to use a mentor is to gain an external perspective on how to grow the business," says Surrey Enterprise Hub Director Marilyn Huckerby.

A mentor is not a consultant - they will draw from their own experience to help the entrepreneur or Directors to explore business issues and decide on actions. The mentor's role is to support and develop, stimulate and challenge. By acting as a sounding board for their clients, the mentor can build their confidence as their business grows.

Typically the advantages to having a mentor are:

  • access to a wealth of business knowledge and experience from someone who's been there, seen it, and done it;
  • sharing experience and getting one-to-one feedback at a critical stage in your business development;
  • getting a truly objective view on your business;
  • mentors can be a useful source of ideas and connections, especially for new businesses.

"Mentors don't make decisions for their client," explains Marilyn, "but they will help them to examine the options available to them. If the mentor feels that the client needs help outside of their experience, they will come back to the Hub Director, and together we will suggest alternative sources of help.

Merlin Mentors
Where this form of support is identified as appropriate, the Enterprise Hub Director will enrol the client on the Merlin Mentor project which is currently funded by the European Social Fund and SEEDA, and is managed by Finance South East.

The Merlin Mentor project matches mentors from a pool of over 60 highly experienced and successful business men and women with Enterprise Hub companies. The mentors provide their time pro-bono, enjoying the challenge of bringing their experience to bear on the issues facing innovative young businesses, developing their own skills and knowledge further and being part of an exciting regional network and business acceleration programme. They acknowledge that they grew their own businesses by learning from others and are keen to be there for another generation of entrepreneurs. Mentoring relationships typically last for six to nine months with the frequency of meetings tailored to the specific issues being addressed. The mentor, client, Finance South East Relationship Manager and Hub Director keep in touch through the duration in case other issues are unearthed needing additional or different forms of support.

You could benefit from a mentor if:

  • you want a sounding board to help you work through some specific business issues;
  • you would like to have your thinking about the way forward for the business challenged;
  • your management team may not yet cover all the bases and you would like another viewpoint;
  • you want help from someone objective, with more experience than yourself who will work through problems with you.

The Coach
Coaches are similar to mentors in that they are business people who have already been successful and have built up a reservoir of skill and experience that can help a growing company. Where coaching differs from mentoring is in the way those skills are made available to the client company.

Marilyn Huckerby explains, "Coaching is about looking at the whole of the business, to drive it forwards. Coaching can be seen as providing more of a steer for the management team: a coach will roll their sleeves up and get involved with the team in analysing the business and what is impacting negatively on its growth potential, and implicit in a coaching relationship is that the company is mature and open enough to be able to commit to this level of involvement."

High Growth Coaches
Companies that have scaled the initial growth curve, and have the potential to reach much greater heights but have lost momentum are candidates for in-depth help through High Growth Business Coaching. The Enterprise Hub Network, in conjunction with Finance South East and with funding from SEEDA, will be providing intensive support via five High Growth Business Coaches to 20 companies across the South East that fit the criteria over the next 12 months. High Growth Business Coaching will provide clients with an in-depth business assessment and a dedicated business coach to ensure they can achieve their growth potential. Participants are given tailored advice through 12 days of free business coaching, as well as access to related business support services.

The coach will help businesses through seven core elements as part of the growth process:

  • Performance Benchmarking
  • Market Understanding
  • Innovation
  • Intellectual Property
  • Investment Readiness
  • Skills of the Workforce
  • Leadership and Management

Nicola Loweth - SEEDA Enterprise Services Senior Manager - commented, "Companies with strong growth potential and capacity to invest time in the programme will find that a High Growth Coach will help them to dramatically improve the performance of their business. The coaching programme is for companies across the whole spectrum of development, in any sector or industry. We expect demand is going to be high, so interested companies should contact their local Hub Director straight away."

You could benefit from a coach if:

  • you are looking for intensive help on issues across the business;
  • you've probably got most of the skills you need in the management team, but you'd like extra help to boost the team's performance;
  • you are comfortable with the idea of getting a clear steer from someone more experienced than you are;
  • you are prepared to let someone uncover the barriers that are holding the business back, and you are willing take action to remove them.

John Cavill
"I have an understanding of what it takes to start and exit a high growth company, having done it myself in the technology sector."

David Pollard
"I think the main thing I bring is personal experience of ramping up businesses, because I've done that many times, and I combine that with academic skills in consultancy and management."

Nick Horslen
"Having worked across a portfolio of different companies I'm very interested in helping companies to assess their position within their market. I'm good at looking at the broad context in which companies are operating."

Andrew Cross
"My background involves a series of successful small companies, with a particular focus on what the customer wants, so marketing and business development are key skills of mine."

Contact: Ally Charles


High Growth Business Coaching Website

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