Mentoring: it's not charity

A new study shows that mentoring provides truly mutual benefits for those involved.

Over the last nine years Professor Kiran Trehan and Professor Monder Ram, from Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham have put together a unique SME mentoring program called the 12/8 Group. It is based primarily on a peer-to-peer system of mentoring where paired businesses meet once a month to discuss issues and create action plans to follow through for the month ahead.

Professor Trehan explains that they have found the peer-to-peer intervention to be by far the most successful, which she thinks is due to how easy it makes it for people to become informed, critical friends.

Everybody wants their business to grow, but we often don’t stop to ask what that growth might mean. It’s tough to really ask yourself if you are ready totake that next step, but any genuine mentor is in the perfect position to do just that.” Professor Trehan

Not just for start-ups

“It is very easy to think of mentoring as more commonly needed by start-ups, but the truth is that it is the businesses that are growing from small to medium, or medium to large which are in the greatest danger of making a decision which could cause them to fold. After all, scaling up a business can throw up all kinds of logistical issues which are unlikely to come to mind without previous experience of the situation.”

Or to put it another way, “being involved in mentoring gives all businesses a much more holistic overview of how things work – undeniably mitigating risk on the ground.”

And as far as the entrepreneurs involved so far in the 12/8 Group are concerned, the benefits are evident. Wade Lyn, MD of Cleone Foods, claims a 30% increase in listings in supermarkets. He says that, “the biggest difference for [his] business has been [his] capacity to be more adventurous, and strategically plan and invest in the future.”

And this is just one story of many; every business in the initiative has reaped benefits from rubbing shoulders with businesses from other walks of life.

Find out more

Read the article in full online, page 52.

If you would like to find out more about Mentoring Support, the 12/8 group and how Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME) at Birmingham Business School can help your business to thrive, please contact Liz Frost, Centre Manager or visit the website to learn more.