How a good mentor can help you change your mindset

How a good mentor can help you change your mindset

Posted: Mon 11th Dec 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 another of the platform's mentoring matches, mentor and coach Nicki Deeson and mentee Kath Dean, chief of staff and transformation director at Cloud21.

Can you give us a brief summary of your professional background?

Nicki Deeson: I've spent my career being a finance director at a number of small and large organisations. I also run my own coaching business. I'm really interested to learn about how different organisations tick.

Kath Dean: My current role is with Cloud21, a healthcare and IT consultancy firm based in the South East. It's seen rapid growth over the last 18 months. It's probably a little bit different to most small businesses in that it's growing very quickly.

So you needed mentoring support to help you with that growth?

Kath: Yes. The growth we were looking at was quite large in every aspect, going from 20 employees to 120. I joined to help the company through that growth and support it in becoming a more mature business.

In essence, taking it from an SME to a bigger company, with all the systems and processes that requires. Because the growth was so quick, I needed some help with focusing on the priorities.

Our main customer is the NHS, and we're helping it implement its electronic patient record systems. The pandemic brought about an opportunity to grow that business, but it did mean we really had to focus on people. The market was there for us, but we would only see success if we had good-quality people and good-quality systems in place to support us.

How confident were you that you could help Kath?

Nicki: I was confident in the power of mentoring. When we first spoke, Kath actually wasn't too sure if the company was right for her. By the final session, she was feeling really energised and looking to have the biggest possible impact on the business.

Her motivation for her work and her organisation really grew during our sessions. And she became more confident about what she wanted and how to get there.


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 was your experience of the mentoring?

Kath: It opened my mind to what opportunities were there for me personally – not just for the company. But to think where I was at the beginning – I was lacking focus and questioning whether it was for me.

I couldn't see how I could help the company make that leap from its small business mindset to thinking bigger. Nicki's mentoring made me really consider what success looks like for me. She was really supportive on pushing that concept through most of our sessions.

What's the key thing this process has taught you?

Kath: It was really important for me to focus on what good looks like for me as well as the company. I can get lost in the company's needs, when I should be pulling back a bit. So, the real learning is building in that reflective strategy time to focus on those things. Because we all get lost in the day job.

And as the mentor in this relationship, what have you learned?

Nicki: I learned so much from these mentoring sessions. That to get the best results, it was essential for me to encourage Kath to look at things from both a work and a personal perspective.

If she just thought about it from a work point of view, she might have followed a course of action that was completely unrealistic. So the fact she can be open about her personal perspectives as well meant we got so much more from the sessions.

I really felt Kath maximised the impact of the Help to Grow: Management Course by getting her colleagues to complete and then jointly review the growth action planning document. She told me she'd taken the plan on the page and handed it around to all her colleagues and they all filled it in and discussed it. The way she did that resonated with me.


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.

You might also like…

Get business support right to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive business tips, learn about new funding programmes, join upcoming events, take e-learning courses, and more.