How working with a mentor can help you set goals for your business

How working with a mentor can help you set goals for your business

Posted: Thu 28th Mar 2024

The Help to Grow: Management Course is a government-funded, 12-week course with a combination of online sessions and face-to-face learning delivered by business schools. Businesses with five or more employees can receive expert mentoring to aid their future growth.

Mentorship is a crucial element of the course. Mentors provide insight and expertise into business processes and management, act as a personal sounding board and encourage their mentees to think creatively. They also help mentees work towards a growth action plan for their business.

Here, we spotlight a business owner who has prospered since being matched to a mentor of their own through the Help to Grow: Management Course platform. Elizabeth Spear is payroll director at Resolve Accountancy in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

How did your business start, and what key steps have you taken to get where you are now?

My parents founded the business in 1999 when I was just two years old. It's been a huge part of my life ever since. I'm the youngest of three and I grew up watching my parents work extremely hard to grow the successful accountancy practice we're all now a part of.

I started showing an interest in the business at age 19. At that time, it was growing rapidly but needed fresh insight into how it could nurture its growth.

I built my way up from the bottom, starting as a payroll apprentice and eventually getting to where I am now – a director and shareholder and a member of CIPP with a foundation degree in payroll management.

Over the past two years, my role started to shift from payroll manager to closely assisting the managing director. Through getting more involved in managing the business, I decided to take part in the Help to Grow: Management Course, not only to help build my confidence but to get a better understanding of the company's potential.

My parents are now semi-retired and intend to fully retire in the near future. At that point, I'll become responsible for managing the business, and steps are currently being taken to make sure there's a smooth transition.

What challenges did you face before working with a mentor?

Throughout my journey, I've struggled with knowing what to prioritise. I haven't quite understood when's the right time to implement change. I have so many ideas but didn't know what to do with them.

Since talking to a mentor, I've come to realise that I don't need to put off these ideas, but they can only become a reality when the business is ready. And to know when that is, we need KPIs in place.

As the business has been growing, we've faced new challenges, so it's only now I feel ready to start adding new ideas into the mix. Of course, making changes comes with risk, and it can be difficult to see the potential without knowing all the answers.

But talking to a mentor allowed me to speak openly about my ideas, think everything through and explore the options.

I'm always worried whether or not I'm making the right decisions or approaching things in the right way, but I received positive feedback from my mentor who has worked in this industry for many years. It was a huge relief to know I'm doing something right, and that's given me the confidence to continue exploring what potential my ideas could bring.


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 specific areas of the business did you need a mentor to help you with?

I needed help working out what steps to take before I jump into an idea. We're now in the process of gathering data to generate reports that we can review every month. They will give us an idea where we are and where we can make changes and at what stage. Without this initial step, I would have found it very difficult to move forward.

How has working with your mentor helped you reach your goals?

Currently, my goals are looking more realistic then they've ever been. I haven't yet reached them as there's a bit of work to do before I can start achieving them, but the stepping stones are definitely in place now.

My mentor recommended setting smaller goals to help me achieve my larger goals, which I found really helpful. I've reached a few of those and I now know that I'm making good progress.

Which key metrics have improved most since you took part in the mentoring?

This was one weakness that came to light once I began speaking to a mentor. As a business, we didn't have anything in place to measure key metrics.

But we're now working on it, and each month we'll be able to do a full analytical review and have a clear understanding of where the business is at.

Which parts of your business have been affected most, and how?

My time! I've realised managing the business efficiently takes up a lot more time than I initially thought it would. I was trying to juggle a lot of what I was doing in my previous role, as well as taking on more responsibility. But I've since realised that if I want to move forward with any changes, I need to give myself the time.

A few months ago, I made the decision to hire a new employee, which eased some of the admin work for the payroll assistant. That meant the payroll supervisor could delegate more work to the assistant, and I could pass more work to the supervisor.

It's helped us make great progress and slowly allowed me time to focus on the business rather than working in the business.

Finally, what's the main thing you've learned so far from your sessions with your mentor?

The whole process was a learning experience for me. Even having to prepare for a meeting with a mentor helped me outline what it is I want to focus on, and I now feel more confident.

But the main thing I learnt is what elements of our business need measuring, and that once we have a process in place to measure these, it will aid the business's growth.


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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