Published: April 24, 2020 | Updated: April 24, 2020

Big demand for mentor service which could be the difference between survival or collapse

By Andrew Diprose, editor

A mentor service for ‘at risk’ businesses, charities and social enterprises which could be the difference between survival and collapse is proving highly popular.

Dorset Business Mentors – formerly known as Dormen – says applications are pouring in for its confidential Business Resilience Service.

On one day last week it received almost the same number of applications as the whole of the previous four weeks.

Charlotte Bowater, Joint Programme Manager, said: “We have clearly struck a chord.”

Dorset Business Mentors has secured funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to offer free access to the service for up to three months.

The offer expires in mid-June.

It is open to businesses, charities and social enterprises from any sector and from sole trader to employers of up to 250 staff.

Dorset Business Mentors is hoping to bring the service to the notice of 38,000 eligible businesses in the county.

Each applicant is assessed and then individually matched with a volunteer mentor, with the expertise to suit their needs, within two days.

The 128 mentors are experienced senior level executives or successful entrepreneurs and offer their services on a voluntary basis.

A five-point structured approach to mentoring includes situation analysis, signposting, navigating the downturn, strategic planning for the upswing and well-being.

Applicants have ranged from those needing to take urgent action to others in a position to make good use of time such as focusing on budgets, mid-term cashflow and thinking about refining their operations.

Two businesses have averted imminent collapse after accessing the service thanks to their mentor’s ability to objectively review the situation and offer fresh, creative thinking on positioning.

Charlotte said: “Almost every business coming forward has said their accountant is too busy to help.

“Our mentors are finding they don’t have the right daily/monthly management accounts information to help them with decision making.

“They are stepping in to establish cash flow positions and ensure business owners get the information they need from their accountants in the longer run.”

Mark Hudson, the mentor conducting the initial assessments of each applicant, pictured left, said: “Business people need help through the crisis.

“They also want to do the right thing now and plan for their future.”

To apply for the free service you’ll need to fill the application form here.

Dorset Business Mentors is taking part in the free Dorset Growth Hub Adapting with Digital Webinar scheduled for Wednesday April 22, from 11am to 12pm.

The webinar aims to provide useful guidance on communicating digitally at this time.

Full details can be found here.