Mike Chapman recently shared his experiences of supporting local businesses in North Devon ( South West England, UK ) . We felt his experiences would support Business Mentors become more effective as support providers. While also helping Entrepreneurs understand what areas they need to focus on.
“Common experience is that entrepreneurs look for their car keys under the lamp post even though they know the keys aren't there. Mainly because this is the only place they can look.”
Typical Areas of Concern for Entrepreneurs -
Support Generated to help Entrepreneurs.
Mike generated Training Workshops to support Entrepreneurs. These Workshops also provided:
In terms of time of the day after some experimenting Tuesdays between 4-6pm or 6-8pm with some light food worked quite well. They were 2 hours long - broken into a 45 min for the talk and 1 hour 15 min for the interaction. Over time the workshops became information based social networking events for local entrepreneurs.
The Topics covered were -
Building his level of Mastery as a Business Mentor.
Mike’s first few projects were a learning experience. He improved his skills as a Business Mentor by a mix of Training ( not very good ). Exchanging views with other business mentors. And, involving clients in the knowledge sharing during workshops.
Empirical Analysis Matches Experience.
Mike felt his marketing background didn't dictate his support and focus on the marketing of his clients. It was more the needs of the clients. One of their dominant concerns tended to be marketing related and he just happened to have a marketing background.
What is Business Mentoring?
External Business Mentor v. Internal Manager within a Corporation?
- Managers operate in an environment where routines are the norm
Key areas for other Business Mentors to focus on -
Key Areas for Entrepreneurs to focus on -
Case for Mid Life Entrepreneurship -
Other Thoughts -
Locally focused mentoring activity that allows local businesses to benefit from local knowledge are valuable. The relationship tends to be more meaningful. National Schemes tend to be too bureaucratic and impersonal.
Mike read English Literature at Cambridge University and wanted to become a Teacher. Yet, he found himself in a corporation soon after graduating. His corporate experience was mainly in Aerospace and the Defence Sector. Here he rose to become Director of Marketing for Westland Helicopters. He gained an MBA along the way.
In 2008 when he turned 53 decided the corporate environment was no longer the place for him. Along the way he gained experience of working with Internal Entrepreneurship Programmes. Here he worked with corporate spin offs. He also supported New Talent via the Internal Fast Track Programme. This programme supported high calibre staff to realise their ambition within the company.
His early commercial experience was in the dying days of Franco Spain. Here there was high degree of uncertainty. A high level of political instability. And, a general uncertain environment. The events of 2008 reminded him of this period.
Mike’s first experience of Business Mentoring was via Dormen Dorest. This was a Local Authorityfunded programme to support local SME’s. It was a voluntary mentoring position. He then moved to North Devon a year later. Here he supported local businesses via Business Buddies - an EU funded Voluntary Mentoring project. The second project supported about 100 companies over 3 years with 25 – 30 Business Mentors. This was all delivered outside any nation support at the national level. The focus here was on companies in their 2nd to 5ft year of starting up. This meant the kinds of concerns were more focused on scaling up as opposed to surviving.
In the future Mike will be giving post mentoring support. He is also seeking new opportunities to assist local businesses.
This interview was previously posted on www.bizstuff.co