As an incentive, mentors should be able to invest in the local companies they support in a way that offsets their capital gains and income tax bills, possibly through a Business ISA.
But the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has taken the idea further and proposed a National Mentoring Service, managed by a new body called the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs.
This would build on the volunteer mentoring networks that already exist, improve the quality of their advice and match them with businesses across the country. The FSB described the creation of the service as “critical to small business growth”.
The organisation acknowledged the danger of discouraging mentors with the inevitable red tape associated with accreditation, but said “light touch assessment” was necessary to improve “consistency”.
“To become a mentor it will be essential for the mentors to themselves have a supervisor who can monitor and assist with their work. This will ensure the mentor is able to deliver a top quality service,” it said.
It was “vital” to allow companies to rate the advice they were given on an eBay-style feedback system, the FSB added, and gave the checkatrade.com website as an example of who this could function fairly.
The FSB said high street banks should be “looking to donate investment” into the scheme as part of their efforts to “rebuild relationships” with small businesses and is lobbying Vince Cable to ensure that banks get behind any proposed scheme.