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?