Just a quick one today…last Thursday night Richard and I went down to the big smoke to the Inaugural Excellence in Enterprise Mentoring Awards, quite a mouthful!  In essence, some big names in business and banking got together a few years ago to come up with  some ideas to help SME’s get going.  One of the initiatives they came up with is mentorsme – a forum for young businesses to meet experienced mentors.  Mentorsme is managed by the British Banking Association and comes from the Better Business Finance Initiative supported by the UK’s largest banks.

We have been supported by Jim Lawson at the Entrepreneur Exchange in Sheffield (and if you are starting up a business in Sheffield you can do NO BETTER than contacting this organisation – more another time) – and he put us in touch with our mentor, Chris Perkins.

Although we did not win an award, we were shortlisted amongst some other fantastic new  businesses – but the valuable bit was listening to people like Doug Richards (Founder and CEO if School for Startups, Dragon!) and MT Rainey (Executive Chair of SFEDI Group).  The message that we have taken away with us is that the first few years of business is all about survival…it was a huge relief to hear an experienced business man like Doug Richards state this as if it is totally normal!  The idea behind mentoring is to support SME’s to make the right decisions during these survival years, so that they can go onto become fledgling businesses.

So my final word has to go to our mentor, Chris Perkins, and the other experienced people who have helped us with their ideas and time.  The difference that having a place to go where we can reflect on the business, makes a really positive difference to us, and the feeling that there are straight talking, no nonsense people there for us during the survival stage is invaluable!