Posted: Wed 12th Apr 2023
Enterprise Nation is one of the small business support providers delivering voluntary mentoring as part of the government's flagship Help to Grow: Management Course.
Ninety per cent subsidised by the government and delivered in collaboration with industry experts and experienced entrepreneurs, the 12-week course provides a combination of online sessions and face-to-face learning, delivered by business schools. It's aimed at senior leaders of small and medium-sized businesses with five or more employees.
Mentorship is a crucial element of the course, with mentors providing insight into business processes and management, acting as a personal sounding board, facilitating networking, and encouraging creative thinking.
Senior business leaders who want to pursue mentoring can match with a mentor through the Help to Grow: Management Course platform. Once connected, they have access to 10 hours of one-to-one support.
In this blog, we talk to one of our recent mentoring matches:
Mentor Darya Simanovich is an entrepreneur and business owner with years of expertise in the food, hospitality and leisure sectors.
Mentee Lara Omoloja is the founder of Greenwich Pantry, a London-based food business that helps food enthusiasts develop and enhance their cooking skills.
Darya, please tell us about your career and professional background.
Darya Simanovich: I'm the CEO and founder of both Chelsea Creperie, a coffee shop on Fulham Road, and Chelsea Swim Spa, a swim school for children. I also rent properties for short-term filming and advertising purposes.
In 2021, I graduated from the 10K Small Businesses Growth Programme run by Oxford University and Goldman Sachs. I'm a business mentor on the Help to Grow: Management Course and currently studying for a business mentoring and coaching degree (Level 5) through the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).
Lara, tell us why you started your business.
Lara Omoloja: I started Greenwich Pantry driven by a passion for food. I wanted to help people see that food is not just an end in itself. A frequently overlooked aspect of food is the social and psychological impact that it – and, in particular, cooking – can have on individuals and groups of people.
Having worked as a food expert for various communities in Greenwich, I identified a gap in the market to assist people in cooking healthier options at home, and that's where it all began.
What motivated you to become a mentor for other business owners?
Darya: As an entrepreneur, 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.
How did you discover the Help to Grow: Management Course?
Lara: Small Business Britain was promoting the programme, and I asked whether it would be available to me as a business owner. Thankfully, it was! However, it was an incredibly intense few weeks waiting to see if I'd be accepted onto it.
Small businesses see significant development through mentoring: Become a mentor and provide 10 hours of one-to-one support. Find out more
What areas of your business did you need help with, and what kind of mentor were you looking for?
As I run a business in the food industry, which is quite niche, I needed someone who understood running a food education business or something similar.
What do you look for in a mentee? Why did you choose to work with Lara?
Darya: I look for mentees who are open to learning and willing to take action to improve their businesses. Lara stood out because she demonstrated a genuine passion for her business in the hospitality sector.
How much potential do you think Lara's business has?
Darya: I believe Lara's business has a lot of potential, particularly given her strong focus on customer service and attention to detail.
What makes a good mentor, and do you think anyone can do it?
Darya: Good mentors are experienced and knowledgeable and can communicate effectively with mentees. They are patient, empathetic and able to provide constructive feedback.
I believe anyone can be a mentor if they have the right experience and approach. However, being a good mentor requires a certain level of emotional intelligence, empathy and the ability to offer valuable advice and guidance.
How does mentoring business owners benefit you?
Darya: As a mentor, I benefit from the personal satisfaction of helping others while learning from mentees and staying connected to the business community.
This can provide mentors like me with fresh insights and perspectives on our own businesses.
What are the main benefits of mentoring for business owners like Lara?
Darya: Mentoring offers business owners valuable insights and perspectives, as well as access to new networks and resources. It also helps them identify areas for improvement and develop new skills and strategies to drive growth.
Finally, what are the main things you've learned from your mentoring with Darya?
Lara: Darya ticks all the boxes for me. She doesn't hold back on sharing her experiences and the challenges that have helped shape her success.
As a relentless business owner herself, I believe we make a perfect match because she understands the issues that come with growing a small business. Her contributions have been invaluable.
Want to help a small business grow?
Being a mentor goes far beyond the rewarding feeling of 'giving back'. Mentors gain a range of personal development benefits from the experience.
Become a voluntary mentor for the Help to Grow: Management Course and commit 10 hours over 12 weeks to support businesses with their growth action plan. Sign up today
The national mentoring element of the Help to Grow: Management Course is being delivered by a partnership of Newable, Enterprise Nation and the Association of Business Mentors on behalf of the Department for Business & Trade.