Need to make a decision?
See how a mentor could guide you through
Here’s how Bank of Scotland mentor Ian Collins has worked with Ucan and Border Eggs.
Watch our case studies now
Our mentors are part of a pool set up by The British Bankers' Association (Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, HSBC, RBS and Santander), offering a free mentoring service to British businesses. So, although there's no guarantee your mentor will come from Bank of Scotland, all mentors will be of a similar standard.
To find a mentor, follow the link below. It will take you to the mentorsme.co.uk site.
To use the service you will need to:
- Enter your location and your business's stage of development.
- Choose a mentoring organisation from the list and get in touch.
Your chosen organisation will discuss your needs, then assign you and your business a suitable mentor.
See how a mentor could help you. Just click on a business crossroads
Is my idea any good? Or has it been done before?
Although a mentor would tell you that ideas are important, originality often has very little to do with profitability. Plenty of successful businesses are just like others in the market - they're just run better. Passion and drive are really key, especially at the start. That and finding a ready market. Speaking to someone other than your friends or family helps cast an independent eye over your plans. This is a where a mentor could support you.
Take the plunge? Or just dip a toe?
Taking the plunge is a brave choice. Just make sure you've done your research and know your market. A mentor could explain how dipping a toe to test a business idea and the market has its advantages. You can test a business idea and the market. And if you discover that being your own boss isn't for you, you can wind things down and go back to your day job.
Cash flow or order book?
Plenty of firms with full order books have failed because of a lack of cash. So, it's vital you get on top of this and put some systems in place to manage your cash flow. Fortunately, the principles are pretty straightforward. Start by preparing and maintaining a cash flow forecast. That way, you'll be able to see months ahead and identify problems before they become critical. Remember, sound cash flow is the foundation on which everything else in your business, including a healthy order book, is built.
Once you've pulled together a cash flow plan it might help to speak to a mentor about how you can apply it.
Turn down new business? Or go for it?
Reputation is everything in business. Which is why one of the most dangerous times is when you start to get busy. Biting off more than you can chew may be tempting from a profit point of view but if your quality suffers, your reputation might too. By sharing their experience of how others have managed in similar situations, a mentor could help you plan ahead to create strategies to steer you through your own busy patch.
It's gone very quiet. Cut back? Or press on?
Sometimes you might want to speak to someone when you're in a difficult situation. Perhaps business isn't coming in as fast as you would like. A mentor might offer you a perspective that you hadn't considered and the guidance you need to get back on track.
Should I sell up? Or acquire a new business?
You might find yourself at a crossroads where expansion is one choice and selling up, another. Based on your circumstances, selling up might be right for you, but it's not the only option. Find the right business to acquire and you could increase the size of your existing business overnight, giving you the opportunity to take a step back while retaining control.
A mentor could help you weigh up your options and offer a point of view that you haven't necessarily thought of. They might also have a background in expanding a business and could offer guidance in how to avoid common pitfalls.
A mentor is someone who can offer you and your business unbiased, friendly support, especially at times when you need another point of view for a different perspective.
Mentoring has helped thousands of businesses reach their goals:
- 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for 5 years or more which is double the rate of non-mentored entrepreneurs
- 1 in 5 of mentored businesses are more likely to experience growth
Source: FSB (Federation of Small Businesses)
A mentor can work around you and your business, act as a sounding board for your ideas and help you network with other companies and organisations. They can meet you face to face, over the phone or via email, and will work with you for as much as a day a month, for up to a year.
To find out more visit mentorsme.co.uk - a mentoring portal that helps businesses get in touch with quality-assured, independent mentoring organisations across Scotland.