Experience on tap

Now, owners of businesses in the East Midlands have been given an opportunity to access expertise to help their business grow through the Mentoring Escalator Programme.
The scheme delivers a comprehensive range of business support products to start-ups and micro businesses. It is backed by East Midlands Development Agency (Emda) and its sub-regional strategic partnerships. The aim is to link company owners with experienced business leaders who become mentors at a personal and business level.
We all have mentors in our lives, although we may not recognise them as such. Mentors are the people we turn to when we need a sounding board or are unsure about the direction to take: they can be friends, family, solicitors and accountants. People we know and trust. 
However, sometimes it’s good to get a fresh perspective on business-related issues and this is where the Mentoring Escalator Programme comes in.
Mentoring will help provide businesspeople with a focus on the longer term needs for themselves and their business and offer an opportunity to evaluate and address development needs.  It can provide an opportunity to unlock creativity to solve problems and explore options to improve performance and grow the business.
The programme is designed around a plan of 10 mentoring sessions.  In addition those using the scheme will be invited to a training session that will help them to maximise its benefits networking opportunities with other business owners on the scheme. 
It will add real value to up-and-coming business leaders and their companies. The cost is just £250 + VAT.
The programme offers business owners a fantastic opportunity to improve their own performance and that of their business by working with a professional business leader who will become a sounding board they can trust. 
“We are aware of how important it is for small enterprises to have access to further support and guidance and the Mentoring Escalator Programme provides a superb solution.”
The East Midlands scheme is one of many currently being piloted around the UK as a way of ensuring that small and medium-sized enterprises receive the targeted support they need.
For the mentors there is a satisfaction in being able to pass on skills learned over many years, and there are other rewards. One of them, John Chapman, is an SME director. “It’s satisfying to help people with their business problems, but it’s never just a one-way process,” he says. “I’m a great believer in life-long learning and mentoring helps me revisit the basics, giving a fresh perspective on my own business issues.
“I mentor very intelligent and successful business people, but sometimes the everyday business of running an organisation can make it hard to think strategically. As a mentor, I ask some very simple questions. But answering those questions often gives the person being mentored a whole new perspective.”
That’s certainly something Chris Hall, a managing director who is being mentored by O’Reilly, would agree with. “My sessions with John give me a formal opportunity to jump out of the box,” he says.
“It’s protected time for me to think creatively about issues for the business, that it would otherwise be all too easy to put on the back burner. I’m very grateful to Emda for funding this programme – it’s the best £250 I have spent in a long, long time and is extremely cost-effective for what you get out of it.

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