Help to Grow: Management Course – How mentoring can help business owners develop as people

Help to Grow: Management Course – How mentoring can help business owners develop as people

Posted: Fri 28th 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 Simon Davey is a process improvement specialist and business performance adviser who has years of expertise and knowledge in continuous improvement for businesses.

    Mentee Louis Arnold is operations director at Beer Line Wizard, a company that has developed a unique process of cleaning and maintaining beer lines so hospitality businesses can keep their draught beer in the best possible quality.

Simon, please take us through your career and professional background.

Simon Davey: I studied business and finance at college. Once I'd completed my education, my first role was with a marketing company, working on many varied campaigns for a multitude of companies. Realising that I had too much energy for an office role, I moved into manufacturing.

I worked mainly in food and drink and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), gaining expertise and knowledge across many departments and building my understanding of the end-to-end manufacturing process.

From there, I moved into continuous improvement (CI). This was something that I not only enjoyed but had a natural ability for. My journey in CI has allowed me to work with businesses that provide apprenticeship training, third-party printing and retail.

In 2020, I decided to start my business as a business performance adviser, imparting my knowledge to start-ups and SMEs to make sure they're set up for success.

Louis, can you tell us about your business?

Louis Arnold: Beer Line Wizard is a beer-line cleaning service that aims to bring about positive change in the hospitality industry. Our primary goal is to deliver impactful results to our clients by using innovative cellar technology and advanced cleaning techniques.

We recognise the importance of high-quality draught beer, which is why we specialise in providing comprehensive cleaning solutions that improve beer quality, boost profitability, and help businesses save on costs.

We're not only dedicated to providing high-quality beer-line cleaning services but also to reducing Scotland's food waste and carbon footprint. We've aligned our mission with Scotland's 2030 50% food waste reduction target and 2045 net-zero targets, which is why we strive to make a difference with every client we serve.

What motivated you to become a mentor for other business owners?

Simon: To pass on my skills and knowledge to help business owners set up for success. It also gives business owners access to a resource that they may never be able to afford.

Using a mentor allows business owners to discuss ideas with an impartial third party who offers a non-objective view.

How did you discover the Help to Grow: Management Course?

Louis: It was through Scottish Enterprise, who also helped me secure funding for the course. The programme provided one-to-one mentoring, online learning resources, and networking opportunities, which were tailored to my specific needs and challenges.

Thanks to Scottish Enterprise and the Help to Grow: Management Course, my business has improved and my leadership skills have developed.

What areas of your business did you need help with, and what kind of mentor were you looking for?

Louis: At the time I was seeking a mentor, my business was in a critical stage of growth. We had recently secured new contracts and were experiencing a surge in demand for our services.

While this was an exciting time, I was looking for a mentor who could help me develop a clear business plan that would bring focus and direction to our priorities.


Help to Grow: Management Course – Develop your business with a mentor

Small businesses see significant development through mentoring: Become a mentor and provide 10 hours of one-to-one support. Find out more


What do you look for in a mentee? Why did you choose to work with Louis?

Simon: A forward-thinking person who has the passion and drive to succeed and who is willing to learn and improve themselves. Louis reached out to me as I had a background in brewing and my skills and experiences aligned with his business.

How much potential do you think Louis's business has?

Simon: Untold potential. The business can grow to whatever level Louis wants it to. He's consistently looking for ways to improve both himself and his business to be the best they can be.

In the eight months I've been working with Louis, he and his business has grown and will achieve further sustained success. My aim is to support him wherever I can.

Louis will call me for advice whenever he needs it on matters outside our mentoring sessions. I hope that this continues long after our mentoring sessions have concluded. It's a pleasure to work with him.

What makes a good mentor, and do you think anyone can do it?

Simon: The ability to listen and empower the mentee to believe in what they want to achieve. There's an old saying that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason – well, for a good mentor, they are paramount.

By talking too much, I believe that I'd only be imparting what I wanted and this may not align with the mentee's journey. My job is to get the mentee to find the answers they are looking for and guide them on their journey.

As far as whether anyone can do it, I believe that anyone can do anything with the right training. Naturally, some people are more attuned to the benefits of others. If you can create relationships and be a good listener, you can be a mentor.

What specifically were you looking for in a mentor?

Louis: Specifically, I was hoping to work with someone who had experience in strategic planning and could help me identify key opportunities and risks for our business. My goal was to build a strong foundation for sustainable growth and position us for long-term success.

As well as helping me develop a business plan, Simon has also provided invaluable support in preparing me for interviews, meetings and key presentations.

With his guidance, I've been able to develop my communication skills and become more confident in presenting our business to potential clients and partners.

How does mentoring business owners benefit you?

Simon: Creating lasting relationships and improving knowledge are key reasons for why I'm a mentor. You can always learn from other people. I take satisfaction from my mentees' journeys as I gain new knowledge and see their businesses grow at the same time.

I enter every mentoring relationship to create a legacy with my mentee. I have 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.

What are the main benefits of mentoring for business owners like Louis?

Simon: A non-objective, honest view. A mentor should be foremost invested in the mentee and their development to deliver business results and benefits.

A mentor is an outlet, and may offer a skillset, that may not be available to the mentee inside their business. Mentoring is an opportunity for the mentee to share their ideas, plans and challenges with a third party.

How regularly are you meeting with Simon?

Louis: I started working with Simon each week through the Help to Grow: Management Course, which allowed us to make a good start on developing a clear business plan and identifying key opportunities for growth.

We found that this regular meeting schedule was very effective in keeping momentum and ensuring that we stayed on track with our goals.

However, as I began to implement the strategies outlined in the business plan, Simon and I found that we didn't need to meet as frequently. We've since shifted our meeting schedule to once a month.

That's allowed us to stay up to date on any new developments or challenges that arise, while also giving me more time to focus on implementing our growth strategies.

Do you meet remotely, in person or both?

Louis: We typically meet remotely through Teams as we're located in different parts of the UK. This has been a convenient and effective way for us to stay connected and work together on our business goals.

However, we did have the opportunity to meet in person, which was a great experience. During that meeting, we were able to discuss our progress in more detail and Simon had the opportunity to meet some of our partners in the brewing industry.

Finally, what are the main things you've learned from your mentoring with Simon?

Louis: The main thing is the importance of having a clear business plan that outlines short-term priorities and long-term goals. Through our work together, Simon has helped me to identify key opportunities for my business, and to develop a strategic roadmap for growth.

One of the key takeaways from our sessions has been the importance of staying focused on our core capacities and building a strong foundation for sustainable growth. Simon has helped me to think critically about where we should be investing our time and resources, and to prioritise those activities that will have the greatest impact on our business.

Simon has also helped me develop my communication skills and become more confident in presenting our business to potential clients and partners. This has been invaluable in helping me to build strong relationships and position our business for success.

Overall, I'm incredibly grateful for the support and guidance that Simon has provided through the Help to Grow: Management Course, and I'm confident that his insights and expertise will continue to help my business grow and thrive in the years to come.


Help to Grow: Management Course – Develop your business with a mentor

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.

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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