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Become a mentor - getting started

You have been in business for a number of years or have considerable business knowledge and you wish to share what you have learned with others.

Mentoring could be the answer. But first you probably have a number of questions. If they aren’t covered below, contact us.

Q. What experience do I need to become a mentor?
A. A mentor is normally someone who has extensive business experience or is knowledgeable in a particular business area, such as finance. 

Q. Why should I become a mentor?
A. Your business knowledge puts you in a prime position to support the next generation of businesses and play a crucial role in helping UK companies grow, which will in turn boost the chances of economic recovery. In addition, you will gain a wider understanding of the issues and challenges facing small businesses, which will enhance your own working life and outlook.

Finally, as well as joining a wider mentoring community and having your contribution recognised, you will earn a recognised qualification (see ‘What training can I expect to receive?’ below).

Q. How do I become a mentor?
A. Follow these three steps:
1. Download the job description and dos and don’ts checklist, which sets out the role of a mentor.
2. Contact a mentoring association that you believe meets your needs. You can find out about the mentoring organisations partnered with by browsing through the various sites. Note that mentoring organisations will have their own approach and concerns with regard to recruiting mentors:

  • Not all mentoring organisations will be recruiting currently as they need to respond to marketplace demand for their services.
  • The costs of managing mentors may be an issue – not all mentoring organisations can readily fund an expansion of their mentoring capability.
  • Each organisation is likely to have its own induction programme that it will expect you to follow.

3. Prove to the mentoring association that you have the relevant skills, knowledge and professional experience. You can do this through recommendation, self-assessment, accreditation, qualifications or by completing a recognised programme.

Q. What training can I expect to receive?
A. Each mentoring organisation will have its own programme of training so the training you receive will depend on the organisation you choose to join. If training is an important area for you, ensure you discuss this with your chosen mentoring organisation before you commit to joining its network of mentors.

Some mentoring organisations may choose to put new recruits through a training process such as the one run by SFEDI, a government-recognised body that sets enterprise mentoring standards in the UK. The training covers everything from the legal and ethical requirements of mentoring, to the financial aspects of running a business and an understanding of the competing demands that face an entrepreneur, as well as providing skills to manage the mentoring relationship.

If you are a current or former employee of one of the banks that make up the Business Finance Taskforce – the body behind – you will be trained by SFEDI as a matter of course. The banks participating in the Business Finance Taskforce are Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander.

Get MentoringGet Mentoring is an initiative to unlock, train and support a community of business mentors across the UK. Its aim is to recruit and train thousands of mentors from the business community.

Read more about the Get Mentoring project here.

Q. What kind of help will businesses want?
A. Companies will be seeking access to a broad range of support. They may be starting up, growing, established or thinking of selling. Your role is to provide effective support that will give the business owner the confidence to move forward with his/her plans. You can do this by sharing your own experiences, providing constructive feedback or acting as a sounding board for ideas. For more information on the essentials of mentoring, see Mentoring in summary.

Q. How often do mentors and mentees meet?
A. While it is up to individuals to agree a suitable schedule, mentors and mentees typically meet on a monthly basis. Alternatively, they may keep in contact via telephone or email, depending on what they have agreed initially.

Q. How long can I expect to support an individual business for?
A. The time frame varies. A business may need help for anything from just a couple of months up to a few years.

Q. Will I be able to support more than one business at a time?
A. Yes, you can support up to three businesses.