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Guest post by Gary King of Tendo.

Some of the most famous entrepreneurs have a mentor, from Richard Branson to billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, yet for many small businesses, it’s not seen as a priority or a worthwhile investment.

But if you don’t know what you don’t know, how can you be confident about the path you’re choosing for yourself and your business?

Why would you invest in a business mentor? Well, who keeps you accountable, ensuring you deliver against the targets you set yourself and your business – every month, quarter and year? Who is the person you use as a sounding board when you need answers and aren’t sure which direction to take? And who points out your blind spots in time to stop you making a critical mistake?

Not just any mentor

There are thousands of coaches and business mentors in the UK, so how do you know you’re engaging with the right one for you and how can you be sure they’re going to deliver the impact and value that you need? Would you get in a car if the driver didn’t have a license? No? Then why would you bring an unqualified business mentor into your business?

Aspects to consider when engaging a business mentor are the chemistry between the two of you – you’re going to have to be able to work together and trust one another – as well as any industry-related factors that might be important to you. But perhaps most important of all, have they done what you’re trying to do? Have they successfully built a high-growth business so they can share the lessons they learned? Do their many years of experience mean that they can tailor their support to your exact challenges?

Walking the walk

I don’t just provide mentoring for businesses, I also invest in it for myself. I recently spent two days in London with my mentor working on my business strategy. The time I’ve dedicated and the money I’ve invested means I now have absolute clarity on my two-year growth strategy and am confident and full of enthusiasm to start delivering it.

And yes, I have been there and done that when it comes to growing businesses. In my corporate career, I ran multi-million-pound businesses improving sales, profitability, and cash as well as many other KPIs. And Tendo has recently posted another set of results showing 25% year-on-year growth.

The frightening truth

Recent research from NPower suggested that more than a third of new business owners (38%) took just one month to conclude that running a business was harder than they anticipated. Let me hit you with some more statistics:

  • One in five business owners work 70+ hours a week
  • 50% of business owners regularly work weekends
  • 50% of SMEs fail within five years
  • Less than one in four SMEs have a business plan
  • Only 15% of SMEs have a mentor

Anything sound familiar to you?

Getting help

If you think that the stats above are staggering, it may surprise you that 70% of SMEs with a business mentor succeed past five years – a huge increase!

Each month I work with over 30 ambitious entrepreneurs through our unique Food4Thought dinners. We eat great food, enjoy a glass of wine and discuss their biggest business growth challenges. The groups provide mentoring for one another and share their experiences.
I also work with business leaders one-to-one, helping them get the business focus, work-life balance, and accountability they need, which leads to the growth and rewards they desire. In just over five years, we have mentored over 150 business leaders and helped them to grow.

To give you some recent examples, I’ve helped a marketing agency increase its turnover and profitability by 150% while the business owner reduced their working week from six days to 4.5. I’ve mentored a start-up retail business which went from zero to £30k turnover a month in six months, and I helped a lawyer increase their turnover by 50% in just three months in order to prepare the business for sale.

How can I do this?

Not only do I have over 20 years’ experience growing businesses, I am a member of the first professional body to regulate the quality and professionalism of coaches and business mentors in the UK, The Association of Business Mentors (ABM). This ensures that I have the skills, experience, client testimonials and tools to help me deliver results.

For more hints and tips to help you build your business, why not join Tendo’s thriving FREE Facebook Group, Business Squad? They share weekly live video training, tools and techniques to help you grow and you can connect with like-minded business owners.