Could a mentor support your business development?Published 22nd March 2019
It’s often a knee-jerk reaction in business to think that money will fix all of your problems. But you might find, like Phil Pinder from Cuffs and Co, a retailer of cuff links and shirts in York Shambles, that a different kind of support could actually be more useful for your business.
Phil originally came through to us at How's Business because he wanted a boost to his finances so that he could expand with a new brand launch and reach a wider market. Unfortunately, as a retailer, there isn't a great deal of funding support available. We know how hard it can be for retailers like Phil to access the help he needed, and we were determined find him suitable support. We suggested Business Enterprise Fund (BEF) who offer a range of loans from £500 to £150k. Phil said that the BEF team gave good advice, but he decided at this stage, he wasn’t ready to commit to a loan.
Instead, his family were able to provide the funding. This could have been the end of Phil’s journey with How’s Business, but we followed up to ensure Phil was making the most of the available support. The Institute of Entrepreneurs and Enterprise offer a mentor scheme and this was the next step for Phil. The mentor scheme is free to access and provides businesses with one hour of support for 12 months. If that’s not enough, the mentors are relatively flexible and may even work with you for longer. The best part about this scheme is all of the mentors are volunteers. So, they’re doing this because they care and genuinely want to help your business – it’s not about the payslip at the end of the month.
Phil was connected up with a mentor from a major bank in Leeds. It's common for mentors to come from outside your specific industry which Phil thought was actually really helpful. He said that “it’s a good approach to have someone in a different industry. They can provide an outside perspective and act as a sounding board to launch new projects.”
The pair have had a few meet-ups now and discussed how Phil can grow his business. Currently, the shirts that he sells are being manufactured overseas, but down the line, he might want to bring this in-house. They’re still in the early stages of this plan, but having a mentor has allowed Phil to consider how he can realistically achieve this ambition. There’s a lot to think about if he wants to start manufacturing – he might need new premises, new employees and equipment, and much more. Having a mentor can really help you to keep on track and put strategies into place.
As a manufacturer, Phil would be eligible for a wider range of support. For example, the Manufacturing Growth Programme, a grant to help fund consultancy projects, as the name suggests is directly aimed at the manufacturing industry. Through this, Phil would be able to hire a range of exports with a background in marketing, business planning and much more. The grant Let’s Grow is for large capital investments with the guarantee the business will create new jobs. This could help Phil if he needed to purchase premises to set up his manufacturing ambitions.
“all of the support has been great, there’s no need for improvements. You can become inundated with resources if you search for support online. So, it’s just good to have someone who can signpost you towards support and have knowledge in this area.”Phil Pinder, Cuffs & Co