Micro Firms Missing out on Small Business Mentoring

Vision for a National Mentoring SystemMicro businesses are not taking advantage of government business mentoring programs due to a lack of awareness, research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found.

According to the business group’s Vision for a National Mentoring System report, micro businesses — those with fewer than ten employees — make up 95% of all UK businesses, yet receive only five per cent of the total UK annual business-support budget of £10–12 billion.

The research also highlighted that two in three start-ups fail in their first year.

The FSB said that targeted business–to–business mentoring would hugely reduce this figure, as established companies pass on their expertise to younger firms.

However, the FSB said that small firms, particularly start–ups, were unaware that mentoring schemes are open to them.

“Many micro businesses don’t know that they can access this sort of support service, which is why we want to make it better known,”

said FSB spokeswoman, Sara Lee.

“The report is something that we’ve been working on with The Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative for some time,” she added.

The report proposes the creation of a national mentoring service and suggests that banks should invest both through donation and by providing financial advice for start–ups and micro businesses. Currently, mentoring schemes are scattered across the UK, but businesses which want to find a mentor should approach their local Business Link which can match them with a suitable scheme in the area.

“Government initiatives are in place already, but only a very small percentage of what they spend goes to micro businesses. We want a system that will help small businesses and start–ups,” said Lee. “A lot of volunteering mentor organisations exist already and it would be good for them to be formally recognised.”

Responding to the proposals, a Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) spokesman said:

“The Government is currently reviewing the provision of business mentoring and its role in this area.”

For further information read the FSB’s Vision for a National Mentoring System.

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