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Making the most of mentoring

Starting and running a business isn't always easy and having good mentors, advice and support can make a huge difference to its success. This is something that appears to be increasingly acknowledged by Government and within the private sector. Back in July, the UK's five biggest banks launched a mentoring scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and, early in 2012, the Government plan to launch the Business Coaching for Growth programme, which aims to help up to 10,000 high growth businesses a year to address barriers to growth and grow more rapidly.

Of course, these programmes will both make an incredibly valuable contribution to enterprise support but companies can also make the most of the vast amount of information available to them via the internet. The Startup Britain website, which launched in March of this year, is one example and has proved to be very popular in its first three months, with over 1500 hours of mentoring pledged to 131 young startups and over 3500 Blackberry-sponsored startup guides downloaded.

In terms of securing finance, getting good advice and mentoring can make the difference between success and failure. The first step is, of course, to understand your options - and this website is a great place to start! The second thing is to think carefully about what will be required, or desired, by the people who you hope will fund your business. If you're going for a bank loan, can you provide the security they require and show your ability to make the repayments? If you're pitching to a business angel, can you demonstrate how the investor will make a return on their investment? If you're looking to get a grant, do you meet their specified objectives? Again, getting advice and coaching (preferably from someone who has successfully secured funding) can be invaluable. So, keep an eye out for the mentoring schemes and make the most of the help that is out there!

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