David Cameron meets with business people
UK Prime Minister David Cameron meets with business leaders from 1871, a group of digital entrepreneurs, mentors and investors in Chicago, 2012 Reuters

Almost five million small UK businesses could double their chances of increasing their turnovers and generate millions of extra pounds for the country's economy by closing the "mentoring gap".

According to research from software firm Sage, which questioned more than 11,000 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in 17 countries, nearly nine in ten (89%) UK respondents acknowledged that business mentoring can help them to succeed.

But the research also revealed that less than a quarter (22%) are currently making use of business mentors.

"[Having a business mentor] could be the difference a make or break [for a small company]," Kerrie Dorman, the founder of the Association of Business Mentors, told IBTimes UK.

"Every business owner, whether they are on a board or whether they are on their own, a business mentor could be suitable for them."

The findings comes after separate research from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills found that mentoring can have a significant impact for business success.

The ministry said nine out of ten businesses that had worked with a mentor said it had a positive impact on their business.

It also found that nearly twice as many mentored businesses reported an increase in turnover (44%), than non-mentored counterparts (23%). Similarly, twice as many mentored businesses had hired more staff (10%), than non-mentored businesses (5%).

The news comes as Sage launched its Business Navigators scheme, an initiative designed to bring together business mentors to help educate small businesses about the importance of mentoring and how to establish a beneficial mentoring relationship.

David Hardstaff, a business mentor based in Hertfordshire, told IBTimes UK that business mentoring was important for certain businesses.

"[Employers] need to be receptive to it, they need to understand the need for it and people need to see that there's a genuine benefit in having it," he explained.

"There's nothing like experience and that's what a mentor can bring to the party of a fairly focused area, potentially."