Boost helps recruitment firm to business growth

Cummins Mellor

Independent recruitment consultancy Cummins Mellor Recruitment has expanded its workforce by 20 per cent after taking part in Boost Business Lancashire’s Growth Mentoring programme.

The Accrington-based business has also developed a comprehensive business plan, restructured its operational departments, and created an effective succession strategy.

Established in 1990, Cummins Mellor Recruitment operates nationally as well as locally and recently added six new members to its 30-strong staff.

It specialises in recruiting across employment sectors including hospitality, accountancy & finance, commercial office support, and sales & marketing, in temporary, permanent and interim contracts.

Cummins Mellor Recruitment is part of the Cummins Mellor Group which includes Chefs Jobs UK, specialist chef recruiters for the catering industry, and Personnel Checks, a top-50 disclosure and barring service (DBS) umbrella body providing DBS checks for companies and organisations nationwide.

Operations director, Michelle Mellor, commented: “Our challenge was to look at succession and a realistic growth plan across the business, as well as deciding on a business development strategy for our three-product offering. At the same time, we needed to introduce a new management layer in the business that we didn’t previously have in place.”

Michelle found out about Boost’s mentoring programme as a result of a longstanding relationship with business support organisation Community & Business Partners (CBP).

She continued: “We’ve worked closely with Jane Houghton Fenning and her team at CBP and have always found them really helpful and informative.”

As a result, Michelle enrolled on the programme and was matched with CBP mentor Imelda O’Keefe.

Michelle added: “Imelda threw ideas around by asking great questions, challenging our answers and giving us her thoughts. We got excellent support and input. Imelda’s knowledge helped enormously and it was great to have her as a sounding board.

“We learned to slow down and look at what we already had. Next we formulated a plan of where we wanted to be in one, three and five years, taking into account revenue and headcount needed to achieve the objective.”

Cummins Mellor has continued to attend the Employers’ Forums run by CBP and has now also accessed Boost’s Growth Accelerator Programme to continue its development journey.

Jane Houghton Fenning commented: “Michelle was exceedingly receptive to the mentoring and enjoyed the stretch and challenge of the process that assists with innovative thinking and making decisions. Having a non-judgmental external perspective challenges owners immersed in their own sector. The implementation of early planning has led to a new chef’s school and the creation of new jobs.

“The team has also attended the Skills Assist interactive workshops run by CBP, developing their own competencies to assist with growth. There is an ideal mentor for every type of business – just pick up the phone and ask for the support your business requires to move to the next stage.”

Boost Business Lancashire is the £7.2m Lancashire Business Growth Hub, offering free and part-funded business support to ambitious and growing businesses. Delivered by Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, and supported by £3.6m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), it aims to grow Lancashire’s economy by £20m and create at least 1,200 new jobs and safeguard 700 more by summer 2015.

 

“Could I ask your opinion on something?”

The title of my blog this week is the exact phrase I used when I spoke to my mentor a few weeks ago about something pretty big that had come up in the business.

As I’m writing this I’m actually really excited… One of our long term suppliers was looking to sell up to an agency and the MD was part of the package!

For 7 years we’d worked together and we’d always got on well. I knew there were cracks in their business; communication being one! But the core service was great – and it was a skills gap that we had in our business.

So, I called my mentor to run through things. We had a relatively brief conversation about the potential of it and I then did a SWOT. Was I looking through rose tinted spectacles though? Because it just seemed so prefect.

Roll forward a few weeks and we now have a new Technical Director, we’ve a raft of new clients onboard and we’re able to offer services like web hosting through to pretty complex programming. We’ve found the missing piece of our jigsaw. The exciting thing is that it’s improved the speed of turnaround and quality of our work… and we’ve billed more in the first two weeks than we do in an average month! Great news.

My mentor has bought and sold many businesses, he’s been through the mill. He’s had some challenges along the way but he’s successful, and, I know I can trust him.

So, how many times do you have a question, need a sounding board or just someone to run an idea by? Someone who doesn’t get over excited (like I sometimes do) and someone who has no emotional attachment to your business and is therefore totally impartial. This is where I believe Growth Mentors can be at their strongest!

In some ways it’s a spin off, but in actual fact it’s at the core of why having mentor can really work for you – a trusted person that’s there, when you need them, to speak to and they’re there to support you as needed.

I’ve just got this question to finish off my blog this week – next time you think ‘who should I speak to about this’ the next question you should ask yourself is ‘Where’s the number for Community and Business Partners’ because it could be one of the most rewarding phone calls you ever make!

Morgan Rothwell – D&M Creative

The day I met my mentor… Changed everything

I don’t think I ever really remembered thinking that I needed help. My business was going fairly well, we were profitable and had a few staff. I was happy.

Then I came across growth mentoring through a lady I met at a networking event. The lady was Amanda Meachin of Community & Business Partners and the experience really did change the whole perspective I have on my own, and other, businesses.

Not long after meeting with Amanda I was appointed a mentor who was due to come and give me some ‘support, advice’ maybe a bit of coaching, I wasn’t actually that sure.

However, as soon as I met my mentor something clicked and whatever I was expecting wasn’t that relevant. What was relevant was the way a 50 something man dressed casually, speaking clearly and concisely, weighed up my 5 year old business in about 15 minutes.

I couldn’t believe it. I’d actually met someone who was psychic, had a higher level of knowledge – a superhuman? NO – I’d met someone who was a little older, a lot wiser and much more experienced. A successful businessman and I knew I was going to listen to every word he said.

He shared his knowledge on that day and some of what I learnt I use every single day. Moving forward we now work together on some really interesting projects. He still supports me and my business partner way beyond the 12 hours of support we were promised.

Here’s one thing I really don’t understand – why doesn’t every business have a mentor? To be honest, I’d be quite happy to pay for one… but through Boost’s Growth Mentoring scheme they are totally free of charge!

Find out more
Boost Business Lancashire offers a growth mentoring programme matching business owners with experienced entrepreneurs. To apply for a place on the programme, complete our online form or call 0800 488 0057.

Author
Morgan Rothwell, Director of D&M Creative Ltd.

The three ingredients of effective mentoring

 

As both a professional coach and mentor I am constantly asking myself ‘what makes a good coaching or mentoring session?’ Whilst I believe the best person to answer that question is the client, and it will be different for every client every time, it is also important that we are self-aware and have the ability to assess whether we are delivering effective mentoring to our clients. Whilst there are many factors that contribute to a great mentoring session here are my top three key ingredients:

 The rapport between you and your client is excellent

First and foremost a great mentoring relationship is one where there is excellent rapport between you and your client, one where your mentee trusts and respects you, feels understood and not judged. If rapport is present then in your mentoring sessions dialogue will seem easy and even enjoyable, your client will open up, be prepared to talk about their fears and shortcomings as well as their strengths. But don’t take rapport for granted, it can take effort to build – great rapport comes when you are prepared to put your own judgements aside, step inside their shoes, really learn what is important to them and understand how they view the world.

The mentee has been encouraged to reflect and think through their own solutions

A mentoring session in which you impart your own ideas and solutions will do little more than give your mentee some short term solutions to their immediate challenges. But what happens when a different challenge arises? Will they have learned to think for themselves or will they put the challenge on hold until they have spoken with their mentor again? Excellent mentoring which develops long term capability and confidence involves questioning to help the mentee think through challenges themselves, come up with their own solutions and take responsibility for choosing a course of action.

The mentee has deepened their own self-awareness

Helping your mentee to take action is great, but long term development of your mentee will only happen if the conversation includes discussion around their own motivation and behaviour – what are their strengths, areas for development, what is important to them and what impact do they have upon others?

So what can you do to help develop your mentee’s self-awareness? You can encourage them to reflect on their own strengths and areas for development and as a mentor you can also act as a mirror to reflect back what you see. How a mentee ‘shows up’ in their coaching session is likely to be a reflection of how they operate in their working life. How well were they prepared for their session? Were they on time? What is the impact of their speech and body language having on you? Feeding back their impact on you can have a profound impact on their learning – after all, they may never have been made aware of this before.

Louise Yates, Clear Perspectives Ltd and a Mentor for Community & Business Partners on the Growth Mentoring Programme

louise@clear-perspectives.co.uk

 Boost Logos

How to get the most from the mentoring relationship

Whether it’s a partner, child, friend or parent; every relationship takes work and time to build trust, respect and strength. This is just as true when you’re working with a business mentor.

The most important part of a mentor-business owner relationship is that you get on well. You need to be able to communicate clearly, discuss what you really want, and have the confidence that together you can work towards developing your goals and growth ambitions.

A business mentor should also be matched with you according to their business background, skills, knowledge and experience, and sector expertise.

Our strength is in finding you the right mentor, but all our mentors have one thing in common;

•Their excellent business background – They are successful business people and want to share the lessons they have learnt.

•They know what it’s like – They understand the daily challenges you face as a business owner.

•They keep up to date with what’s happening in industry, technology and the market. We’re not saying they know everything, but they’ll almost certainly know someone who can assist you if they can’t.

Of course the key to a successful relationship is also that at all times you drive the pace of personal and business development and that decisions remain yours alone.

You set the agenda for the meeting and each time you meet you will review progress against your growth objectives. You will celebrate success, be reassured about what you are doing right and always have a sounding board to test out those off the wall ideas that come to you in the shower!

Remember; as a volunteer they have chosen to ‘give something back’ and we regularly check the quality of their support to ensure it matches your needs, and if these needs change you can request another mentor at any time.

In a recent survey by Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) of established SMEs, the findings showed that 90 per cent of those surveyed said they wish they had used a mentor when they were getting ready for growth.

So what are you waiting for?

Find out more

Boost Business Lancashire offers a growth mentoring programme matching business owners with experienced entrepreneurs. To apply for a place on the programme, visit our Boost Page or call 0800 488 0057.

Author

Jane Houghton-Fenning, Business Development Director, Community & Business Partners.

A growth conversation with…Community & Business Partners

In the first of a series of interviews with our Boost Business Lancashire delivery partners, we speak to Amanda Meachin, chief executive of Community & Business Partners.

Explain Boost in one sentence

Boost provides potential and nurtures ability in business leaders to maximise business growth.

Why is Boost unique?

Growth mentoring enables eligible high-growth business-to-business firms over three years old, and with 10 or more staff, to access business mentoring and skills workshops free of charge. There is no other business support being offered to this size of business in this way.

What can companies expect from Boost?

A holistic, seamless and comprehensive business support service. It provides a group of service providers working closely to ensure each complements the work of the others.

What is Community & Business Partners’ mission for Boost?

We’ll be providing high-growth mentoring support through successful business leaders who have worked through similar challenges. Our mission is to embed mentoring skills into the business psyche as a way to maximise ability and potential for the whole workforce.

Which entrepreneur do you admire and why?

Mike Murray. He started his business at his kitchen table and worked hard at building it up to the point where, at one stage, he had a factory employing 400 sewing machinists. He’s gone from family start-up to PLC; floating his business on the stock market. He’s traded all over the world, but throughout it all, he has remained true to his local Lancashire roots and kept his feet firmly on the ground. He continues to share all his knowledge and experience with many other companies and individuals, through The Guardian Angel Entrepreneurs Network, that he founded in 1988 through The Blackburn Partnership. Finally and probably most importantly, he cares about people – and it is that which has brought him success.

What makes a great growing business leader?

A great growing business leader is one who actively seeks support from those who have ‘been there and done it’. They are able to communicate a very clear vision of where they want their business to go, and remain committed to this. They are not afraid of taking risks, nor to changing their thinking if a better way of working becomes apparent.

This is underpinned by having a determination and resilience to overcome obstacles, a positive can-do attitude, and taking informed decisions to maximise all opportunities. In parallel, they learn how to motivate and train their teams to capitalise on their strengths and use resources effectively. They strive to ensure achievement of the longer-term objectives, as well as the short term gains.

Why is Lancashire a great place to do business?

If you look at Lancashire’s past, present and future, the local economy has, and always will, be built on enterprising people, encouraging business start-ups and championing SMEs to be the great industries of the future.

Find out more

Boost Business Lancashire offers a growth mentoring programme matching business owners with experienced entrepreneurs. To apply for a place on the programme, contact us on 01254 505050 or email info@cbpartners.org

Author

Amanda Meachin, Chief Executive, Community & Business Partners.

Five ways a mentor can help your business

The phone rings, an email declares its arrival and a customer needs you urgently. A day running a business is over before you know it.

The rewards of extra freedom and the ability to carve out your own future can sometimes be overshadowed by the stresses of day-to-day business life. Or maybe you just have too many orders, you’re too successful. You’re also, quite often, on your own.

All this leaves little time for strategic thinking and establishing longer term business objectives. So, who can you call on for help?

More business owners and senior managers are achieving their goals through quality mentoring from someone who’s been there and got the t-shirt.

If you’ve never considered engaging a business mentor before, here are five ways mentors could help you to develop and grow your business:

Objectivity – A mentor can help you ‘see the woods for the trees’. Very often you’ll get caught up in the day-to-day running of your business rather than working on the business. Would an objective view help?

Experience – Business mentors know the pitfalls and how to avoid them. They know the benefits of doing certain things that it’s easy to ignore, such as managing the finances effectively, staff development and marketing.

Support – It can be lonely at the top. A mentor is someone you can confide in and use as a sounding board. They can help guide you to success.

Strategy – Many businesses don’t fail because they have a bad product or service, they fail due to a lack of strategy. A mentor will help you shape your strategy so you are clear on the route to growth.

Skills and knowledge – A business mentor will have leadership, management and functional skills and also may be a specialist in your sector. How valuable could that be?

So, if you’ve heard of mentoring and are keen to know more, perhaps it’s time to dip your toe into a world that could deliver much more than you ever thought possible.

Community & Business Partners offers a range of mentoring support through the Boost Business Lancashire growth hub.

The secrets to success when working with your mentor…

Whether it’s a partner, child, friend or parent; every relationship takes work and time to build trust, respect and strength. This is just as true when you’re working with a business mentor.

The most important part of a mentor- business client relationship is that you get on well. You need to be able to communicate clearly, discuss what you really want and have confidence that together you can work towards developing your goals and growth ambitions. A business mentor should also be matched with you according to their; business background; skills, knowledge and experience and sector specialism.

Our strength is in finding you the right mentor but all our mentors have one thing in common;

Their excellent business background – they are successful business people and want to share the lessons learned.

  1. They know what it’s like – they understand the challenges you face as a businessperson
  2. They keep up to date with what’s happening in industry, technology and the market. We’re not saying they know everything, but you can guarantee they’ll know someone who can assist if they can’t!

Of course the key to a successful relationship is also that at all times you drive the pace of personal and business development and all the decisions remain with yourself.

You set the agenda for the meeting and each time you meet you will review progress against your growth objectives. You will celebrate success, be reassured about what you are doing right and always have a sounding board to test out those off the wall ideas that came to you in the shower!

Remember; as a volunteer they have chosen to ‘give something back’ and we regularly check the quality of their support to ensure it matches your needs, and if these needs change you can request another mentor at any time.

In a recent survey by Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) of established SMEs the findings showed that 90% of those surveyed said they wish they had used a mentor when they were getting ready for growth.

So what are you waiting for? 

 

Blogging for business

 

 

 

Why should a business bother to blog? Does it add value and if so what sort of value? How do you even begin to measure return on investment of a blog?

These and other questions will be part of a 25 minute presentation on the 20th June on business blogging at our employers forum.

A few facts to start with are that “companies that blog get 55% more web traffic and 70% more leads than those who dont”. Hubspot. There are over 9 million blogs out there and over 40,000 new ones pop up each day. Many are completely irrelevant to business but there are some great business blogs and new ones start up every day.

What is a blog? The term was coined from the word web-log and is a web page made up of short frequently updated posts that are arranged chronologically like a journal. They give information, opinion, ideas and expertise to customers, friends, employees or interested people.

Blogging is a low cost way to build your presence online, grow a community, communicate with employees and show off your expertise. You can become an authority and a voice through which others can understand not only your product or business but the personality behind your brand.

It is all about connecting and making meaningful relationships around issues you want to discuss and your audience is keen to understand and contribute to. What sets a blog apart is that is has a unique and personal voice for your business as opposed to static web pages and is a dynamic and easily updated way for communicating what is going on in your business or area of expertise.

To write a blog you dont need any particular technological wizardry but a genuine desire to communicate. You can have multiple authors in your company contributing and internal and external links. It is an instant and informal way of updating and distributing information unlike any other.

Ali Handscomb of GTR Coaching will be discussing blogging for business at our employers forum on the 20th June. 11.45 am for Noon start till 2.00 pm at Lancashire Digital Technology Centre Bancroft Road Burnley BB10 2TP ring 01254 505050 to book your free place.

 

Apprenticeships

Written by Amy King

Being a Business Apprentice is a learning curve that is great for anyone wanting to learn and work at the same time. The choice to become an apprentice was difficult to make, I had the grades to go on to university but that itself would pose problems from funding and accommodation, to getting work afterwards. The work based learning route seemed the most responsible step forward, I could learn and work at the same time as well as gaining valuable life experience and I could always go to night classes to gain a degree, more importantly the chance of employment is a lot higher for an apprentice over that of a graduate.

When you start your apprenticeship you won’t be expected to work miracles, and the jobs given to youwont be too hard. As you learn and grow in your new job, you will then be given more challenging tasks so that you can learn more, but still no miracles!! Now here are my top tips to surviving as a Business Apprentice.

Don’t be afraid to ask! People don’t mind if you ask question. If you are stuck, have forgotten something or just want to know more then you can ask someone. It is part of their job in taking on an apprentice to support and help you; they won’t think you’re stupid, just learning. Everyone has been in your position at some point, as either an apprentice or starting in a new job, and it could bring back fond memories for them.  One of the best ways to learn things is to ask!

Be a sponge. Knowledge is your friend so soak it up. Learn, listen and ask questions; you don’t have to cram it all in at once and you won’t have an exam on it so if you forget something it doesn’t matter. But try to pick things up as it’s easier to learn things from the start than be stuck a few months down the line. Ensure that you take notes; a few bullet points will do as you can always refer to these again.

Plan ahead. During the day, write all your tasks down and note your things to do. If someone gives you a job, then write down the specifics, and ask for more details if needed. It will make your day and any tasks easier.

Friendly and happy to help. A smile spreads and even if you feel scared it will help you, people smile back and you will start to feel more comfortable in your new role. As you help others, you will learn more about their job and the workplace around you, and you will also make friends. More importantly BE YOURSELF! Your personality defines you and at first you may be nervous, but as you come out of your shell people will get to see you for who you are.

Be calm and relax. Don’t panic; just breathe and think. Things are not be as bad as they may seem and you can always ask for help. Go home at the end of the day and leave your work at work, relax and get a mug of hot choc.

I hope my pointers can help you, I know they have helped me. Other colleagues will help and support you with ideas of their own on how you can survive. One thing that I can say is that I am very happy to be a Business Apprentice.