An office space
More than 2,500 business leaders and experts have stepped forward to volunteer and undergo training to support the UK's small business community. Brooke Cagle/Unsplash

Helping SMEs to develop management skills, improve productivity and increase resilience to future shocks is vital right now because running a successful small business can be challenging.

More than 2,500 business leaders and experts have so far stepped forward to volunteer and undergo training to support the UK's small business community via the government's Help to Grow: Management course.

But while the benefits for the business receiving the mentoring are clear, there are also some great advantages for those that volunteer their time to help out.

Emma Jones, founder of small business support platform and community Enterprise Nation, said: "Having a business mentor gives you real clarity and confidence that you're moving in the right direction. A mentor is there to help you consider some of the tough decisions you have to make as a founder – but it can also be a really rewarding relationship for both of you.

"It's not discussed enough how helpful volunteering your time to support a business can be. Far from yet another thing on a very long to-do list, it can also have a positive impact on you and your own business."

Here are six benefits of mentoring:

  • It's a great way to give something back

Many mentors have been the recipient of mentoring themselves and experienced first-hand the difference it can make. London-based mentor Darya Simanovich is an entrepreneur and founder of the Chelsea Creperie and Chelsea Swim Spa with years of expertise in the food, hospitality and leisure sectors.

She said: "I've gained many valuable lessons throughout my journey, and I believe it's important to share those experiences with others.

"Being a mentor allows me to give back to the business community and help other people avoid some of the mistakes I made. Moreover, it offers a fantastic chance to learn from mentees and stay connected to the business landscape."

  • You can make a genuine difference in people's lives

"The best thing about mentoring is making a difference," claims Emma Ellse based in Brigg in Lincolnshire, who spent 25 years in industry before moving into academia and teaching students marketing, business, leadership and consultancy.

Ellse continued: "When you get that feedback where someone says they took note of what you said and tried it and the outcome has absolutely revolutionised the way they're working, it's great.

"Recently I did some leadership training, and some of the people on the course came back and said they'd reflected on what I'd told them, it's changed their approach and it's made a massive difference to their relationship with their team. So it's when it makes a massive difference, that's what you get out of it."

  • You develop your own knowledge and skills

With his long history of business mentorship and coaching, Steve Paul, based in Tunbridge Wells, has been able to not only share his extensive knowledge with other people but expand on it too.

Paul said: "As a mentor, I continually learn new things about how people and different businesses work. I love to see how companies can be successful in ways that are fulfilling and sustainable.

"I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with enthusiastic people and I get satisfaction in seeing how my mentees grow and flourish so that they're able to make a difference in their own companies."

  • It's immensely rewarding

"I enjoy working with people – there's something energising and uplifting about seeing them progress and achieve their goals," says Cambridge-based Chris Dunn, a vastly experienced business consultant and mentor.

Dunn added: "I still remember the joy when one of my first mentees started their own business following a difficult time in their personal life. As we went through that period together, I felt like I was a part of their success. It was a wonderful feeling.

"Mentoring also gives you a great sense of pride, being part of business owners' achievements and feeling their recognition and gratitude. Seeing individuals change their thinking, gain confidence, build their leadership skills and ultimately succeed in their careers is very satisfying."

  • You learn more about yourself

After what she calls a "squiggly career", Helen Hill, Bradford-based founder of business consulting firm Unlikely Genius and author of Falling Off the Ladder, eventually moved into self-employment and now owns three businesses. It wasn't until she went solo that she realised the huge impact a mentor's outside perspective can have on personal development.

The founder stated: "I'm a lifelong learning addict, and mentoring has opened up a tremendous number of areas for self-development, all of which I'm embracing. It's given me a real sense of purpose by allowing me to make a difference – something I hadn't realised I was missing after leaving my roles in education."

  • You can build long-lasting relationships

Corby-based business improvement expert Simon Davey, who runs Simon Davey Consulting, said: "I enter every mentoring relationship to create a legacy with my mentee."

Davey further explained: "I've had mentees contact me to discuss ideas and get advice outside mentoring sessions because they believe in me. That inspires me to help them more."

The Help to Grow: Management Course offers senior business leaders one-to-one support from an experienced and fully rated business mentor included including 50 hours of leadership and management training across 12 weeks, with the government covering 90 per cent of the costs involved. Training is delivered via a national network of over 50 business schools.

In exchange for offering their time and experience, voluntary Help to Grow: Management Course mentors receive significant value in the form of industry-recognised mentor training, networking opportunities with other mentors, and the ability to join a national effort aimed at supporting the growth of the UK economy by increasing small businesses productivity.

Led by business support group Newable and including Enterprise Nation and the Association of Business Mentors the consortium was appointed by the Government to develop a national network of business leaders and experts who will share their skills and experience with firms on the practical management training course.

By Liz Slee

Liz Slee is the head of media for small business support platform Enterprise Nation. A former journalist with a background in policy and public affairs, Liz focuses on keeping small businesses and start-ups front and centre of the broader media and policy agenda. That means telling the very real and brilliant stories about the UK's small business community and the work Enterprise Nation and its partners do to support them. She occasionally contributes to International Business Times UK.