Mentoring helps digital entrepreneur succeed - Business Works
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Mentoring helps digital entrepreneur succeed

by Jackie Jenks, Senior Manager Enterprise Mentoring, Lloyds Bank nationwide mentoring scheme has been set up by the five major high street banks, the British Bankers Association (BBA) and the Business Finance Taskforce, with the overall aim of helping the economy return to sustainable growth by training industry professionals to share their own skills and experience with entrepreneurs.

"Mentoring is a real area of focus for us as an organisation and over 40% of all the mentors involved in the scheme are from Lloyds Banking Group," says Jackie Jenks, Senior Manager enterprise mentoring at Lloyds. "Weíre extremely pleased to be working with organisations like the Scottish Chamber of Commerce and to be giving support to SMEs."

"One of our case studies is a budding digital entrepreneur from Edinburgh who is expanding his online property website and developing his business model with our mentoring support."

Sam Zawadzki, who was the youngest person in Scotland to train as an Energy Performance Certifier with the Building Research Establishment, launched the business after spotting a gap in the market for a website that would allow landlords to create their own advertisements which are then posted on a number of major property websites.

additional support - I signed up for a mentor

Sam said, "Launching your own business is quite a daunting process, but Iíve always thought that when you come up with a concept that you truly believe in then you should stop at nothing to make it a success. My background in property management has been extremely useful in kick-starting the business, but after launching, I felt like I would benefit from additional support which is why I signed up for a mentor."

Sam joined the Business Mentoring Scotland programme run by the Scottish Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the BBA, through which he was partnered with mentor Barry Woods, an Associate Director at Lloyds Banking Group in Edinburgh.

"In a competitive business environment having a knowledgeable business mentor was incredibly useful for us," continued Sam. "Our sessions with Barry provided a safe and confidential space for us to discuss our plans, evaluate our current progress and analyse how to move forward and achieve our next set of goals."

"Working with Barry provided us with an authoritative opinion and, because he is incredibly knowledgeable in the property industry, we could trust that his views were well informed. Having access to this level of expert guidance really enabled us to navigate a complicated industry."

Through regular face-to-face meetings, as well as phone calls and e-mail correspondence, Barry was able to support Sam across a number of areas of the business. He provided guidance on the competitive landscape, helping with the development of a new marketing strategy and highlighting events where there would be the opportunity to meet new clients.

"My background is in commercial real estate, so when I heard about the bankís involvement in the national mentoring scheme, I was really keen to get involved," said Barry.

"As Samís business is an online platform, I felt it would be a good starting point to chat through what the website would offer a potential user and discuss how this compared to his competitors. I spent a lot of time listening to Samís thoughts and ideas and together we analysed how these could be refined and perfected. From there, I acted as a 'dummy tester' on the website and gave honest feedback on its overall style, presentation and usability."

"Although Samís business is solely online, the competition is not just other websites - it also includes small independent letting companies and property management agencies too. It was important that Sam really got to grips with identifying and understanding what his target market was - from individuals with just one or two flats, to larger landlords or indeed letting agents. Once he knew who he wanted to target, he could design the website and product accordingly to meet their needs and requirements."

"Another area I worked closely with Sam on was his pricing plan. Sam showed me what he had initially developed and I deliberately challenged this as I felt it was important that he could justify his prices in the face of the various competition and understand how a subscription fee compares to a one-off price and how this could potentially influence a client."

"When Sam was preparing to pitch for additional investment, he presented his business plan to me in a mock presentation and my role was to challenge and question him on numerous points throughout. Using my knowledge and experience in dealing with credit panels, I was able to give Sam an idea of the type of questions that might come up and prepare him for the level of detail a bank will require when considering lending money."

mentoring is a really important business tool

"As part of our work together, I encouraged Sam to attend as many local business and trade events as possible in order to help raise his profile as an entrepreneur and broaden his network of industry contacts. We also held mock pitches when Sam was applying for grants and funding which gave him the opportunity to practice his delivery and prepare for any potential questions."

Sam added, "Mentoring is a really important business tool and I think people can sometimes underestimate just how useful it is. Because I was relatively new to running a business in this industry, I was able to discuss my decision making with Barry first and hear his honest and impartial thoughts. I would urge other business leaders to consider how enterprise mentoring could benefit them too."



One of the key commitments within the initiative was to establish a free enterprise mentoring scheme. Further information can be found on the website at: www.mentorsme.co.uk

Follow this link for more information about: Lloyds Banking Groupís mentoring commitment




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