|- Expert View -
WHO CAN REALLY BENEFIT FROM BUSINESS MENTORING?
by Ron Massey*
Business Mentors is a national programme run out of 15 agencies nationwide. The programme is almost 20 years old and was established by the private Sector, headed by Fletcher Challenge Trust and championed by the late Sir James Fletcher. Today the organisation is funded jointly by private patrons and government, through New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.
The Hawke's Bay agency is run out of Napier City Council and over the last 18 years has helped in excess of 1,000 local businesses. The Service is confidential, free (after a one off registration fee of $100 + GST) and offers support assistance for up to 2 years.
Two years ago the National Office in Auckland offered annual prizes for the top 3 regions, as rated in an independent survey of clients and Hawke's Bay has topped both years! The team serving clients are well-experienced volunteers who give of their time to help others succeed. There are some 15 active mentors in the region who often work with each other to ensure clients get the best possible service and importantly the right information.
The service covers all aspects of business. Occasionally it is needed for a one-off issue, but more recently the demand has been for businesses struggling in the difficult economic times.
In order to provide the best service the Council offers a full rebuilding programme as part of the mentor service. This is a process of 'where have you been?', 'where are you now – and what has changed?' and finally 'where are you going?' Once the strategic plan is determined the mentors look at the business components. The most problematic areas are usually the financial information systems and marketing. Two areas that impact on the business the most! We also look at compliance issues, human resources, operational systems, environmental issues to name a few.
Whilst the public perception is that a mentor is required only when businesses have difficulties, the smart operators know that every business should have a mentor. Even when a business is doing well, there is always space for improvement. And in fact, the time when a business is cruising along nicely is probably the best moment to look for opportunities of improvement. For such a low cost, having someone beside you who is able to look at your business from a different perspective and has a lot of knowledge and expertise to apply is guaranteed to generate new ideas and positive thinking.
Don't miss out: you too can get yourself a mentor. Simply log on to:
(*) Ron Massey is the Economic Development Manager for Napier City Council. He's been helping businesses for 22 years, handling all issues from start-ups to closures. He runs a vast range of programs within the Council and defines himself as a man of industry, not bureaucracy.
Nick Roberts is also provider of mentoring services through Business Mentors New Zealand as well as other business help schemes.