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How to Access Powerful Small Business Mentoring in Scotland

How to access powerful small business mentoring in Scotland
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Running your own business is an incredibly rewarding experience. It can, however, also be a very overwhelming journey! For any small business owner, the guidance and support of a mentor are invaluable and can transform your business. Here I’ll explore how to access powerful small business mentoring in Scotland, from a range of sources.

We are currently in an unprecedented situation, with the effects of lockdown/social distancing due to Coronavirus affecting most businesses. Now, more than ever, small business owners need support and advice, to help them weather this storm. The following resources will hopefully be a source of support for you.

The first couple of options here are specifically offering remote support during the Coronavirus epidemic.

Business Gateway’s Covid-19 Business Support

  • Where? Online/Remote
  • Who? Accessible to anyone, but check resources for your local area
  • Cost? Free

Business Gateway is a great source of support under normal circumstances. At the moment, however, they have really stepped it up. They have a wealth of information and guidance regarding Coronavirus available to access on their website. Their Local Offices are now operating virtually, meaning small business owners can access advice online. Topics include “key elements like business contingency planning, managing cash flow, trading online and dealing with suppliers”. They also have great resources for funding support and grants, and information for creatives struggling with the current restrictions. Between this and their online webinars, covering a range of topics, you’re sure to find relevant advice here.

GrowBiz Perthshire

  • Where? Online/Remote
  • Who? Businesses based in Perthshire and Rural Scotland
  • Cost? Free

Meetings in person are obviously impossible at the moment because of Covid-19. But GrowBiz Perthshire have a fantastic list of resources online to help your business navigate issues caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Their mentoring scheme is aimed at small business owners in Perthshire and other parts of rural Scotland. If you are based in these areas, be sure to check out the information and resources listed on their website.

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Scottish Business Mentoring through Scottish Chambers of Commerce

  • Where? Scotland wide
  • Who? Established Scottish businesses with a “steady turnover”
  • Cost? Free

Scottish Chambers of Commerce and the Network operate “Scotland’s largest peer-to-peer business mentoring support network”. Aimed at growing businesses and social enterprises, they have helped over 10,000 businesses so far. With a pool of 1000 mentors available across the country, Scottish Business Mentoring is a great option. The service is open to any established Scottish businesses and social enterprises with a steady turnover. They report fantastic results for a range of companies across a variety of industries, from web development to environmental consultancy. Their aim is to provide a confidential sounding board, and therefore offer honest, encouraging advice, to help “unlock your business potential.”

Business Gateway’s Business Mentoring Scheme

  • Where? Scotland wide but search your local area on their website
  • Who? Available to any ambitious businessman or woman
  • Cost? Free (subject to availability)

Business Gateway has a fantastic Mentoring scheme, which is free, though subject to availability. This service is run through a partnership between Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce. They match “experienced mentors with ambitious businessmen and women”, and mentors give their time to the project freely. You can meet with your mentor for a couple of hours each month for a chat, or call them for additional support. Organisations who have taken advantage of this scheme have reported increase success. For example, many have documented increases in productivity, turnover and employee numbers. In addition to one to one mentoring, the Business Gateway service also offers the option for group mentoring. Here, eight to ten companies meet with a mentor together, to share their experiences.

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Prince’s Trust Support for Starting a Business

  • Where? Scotland wide
  • Who? 18 to 30 year olds
  • Cost? Free

Aged 18-30? The Prince’s Trust “Support for Starting a Business” scheme has helped over 86,000 young people start their own businesses in the UK. The Enterprise Programme is application-based, but if accepted, you will be matched with a suitable mentor for up to three years. Both online and in-person mentoring is available, to help support you as you develop the business and even help you apply for funding. 

Creative Edinburgh

  • Where? Edinburgh
  • Who? Members of Creative Edinburgh only
  • Cost? Membership starts at £50

As a member of Creative Edinburgh, you will be in a position to apply for their mentoring scheme. Membership is £50 per year for an individual and starts at £150 per year for an organisation. Once you’ve filled out your application, you’ll be matched with a suitable mentor. You will then meet once a month for six months, though this is fairly flexible. This would be a great option if the other membership perks ( free/discounted tickets to their events, promotion, an online profile) would be beneficial for your business.

RBS Entrepreneur Accelerator

  • Where? Glasgow and Edinburgh
  • Who? Application is open to any small business owners with a vision
  • Cost? Free as part of accelerator programme

Royal Bank of Scotland’s Entrepreneur Accelerator is an excellent opportunity for small businesses looking to grow and expand. With bases in Glasgow and Edinburgh, this programme is free to apply to. Throughout the six month programme, you will gain access to free office space, amazing business networks, events and mentoring. More of a commitment than some of the other options, but a great opportunity if you’re looking for a lot of support!

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  • Where? Scotland wide
  • Who? Small business owners in the Finance Sector
  • Cost? Free

Work in finance? ICAS offers free mentoring to small business owners, from a list of Scotland-based mentors. The relationship, in this case, will last 9-12months, with face to face meetings or telephone discussions available to help support you. The ICAS site states that their mentoring service offers “an outside perspective, supporting the mentee, asking questions, giving feedback, sharing experiences and respecting confidentialities.” There is no specific time commitment here – mentors and mentees will arrange this themselves.

Scottish Enterprise Export Mentoring

  • Where? Scotland wide
  • Who? Scottish small business looking to export
  • Cost? Free

Looking to export your product but not sure where to begin? Scottish Enterprise has a fantastic programme available to Scottish based businesses. You’ll be required to meet with your Export Champion (mentor) six times in a year to explore your objectives, make a plan of action and take action. This is a challenging but rewarding opportunity to work with a real expert in your field and expand your business. Visit their website to find out more about the application process!

Mentoring for Growth

  • Where? The Scottish Borders
  • Who? Any small or micro business owners based in the Borders
  • Cost? Free

This fully-funded programme is aimed at existing small or micro businesses and is based in the Scottish Borders. Mentoring for Growth offers group mentoring sessions, to help grow your business in an interactive environment. Because of the group dynamic, the programme is able to create a great combination of expert advice and interaction with peers experiencing the same issues. For more information, visit their website.

Over to you: Next steps

Because you are in charge of everything, being a small business owner often means being a bit of a jack of all trades! Running all sides of the business can also lead to a lot of solo decision making moments.

A mentor can help take some of that pressure off, by giving you expert advice and someone to bounce ideas off. That kind of support is invaluable and, as a result, can help your business grow in a sustainable way.

I hope that, amongst the options above, you’ll find small business mentoring in Scotland that works for you and your business! And who knows what the future hold? Further down the track, you could find yourself taking on the baton and becoming a mentor to someone else!


Keep reading! Check out these past posts:
Where to Get Small Business Support in Edinburgh
How to be a Pro in Online Networking Video Calls
Small Business Grants and Funding in Scotland
6 Things to Consider Before Growing Your Small Business

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.